TIME State of the Union 2015

Here’s the One State of the Union Talking Point Republicans Liked

A debate over the next round of global trade deals is heating up in Congress this year

About a half-hour into President Obama’s State of the Union a strange thing happened: most of the Republicans jumped up and cheered while most Democrats stayed seated and silent. It was the only time it happened Tuesday night, and the topic was trade.

“China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region,” said Obama. “That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why should we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field.”

“I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense,” added Obama, who earned a brief cheer from democratic socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders before continuing. “But 95% of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities. More than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re actively looking at bringing jobs back from China. Let’s give them one more reason to get it done.”

There are few areas of agreement between Obama and the new Republican Congress, but trade promotion authority, or TPA, which would ease the passage of the 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, potentially the largest free trade agreement ever, is one of them. For years the Administration has been negotiating TPP—affecting about 40% of the world’s GDP and about a third of the world’s trade—but so far Obama has yet to prove to Republicans that he is willing to spend the time, effort and political capital to get it done. But on Tuesday night, the Republicans’ response to his message was ecstatic.

The Republican Senate and House whips, Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, said that the trade talk was “probably one of the brightest spots” and “the most promising part” of the speech. Other top Republicans who criticize Obama around the clock, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said they hoped the President would now push the issue. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, the most senior member, said Obama’s remarks were “welcome but long overdue.”

In 1993, President Bill Clinton led an all-out push to get the massive North America trade deal through Congress. There were face-to-face White House meetings with Congressmen, White House envoys roaming the Hill, and 37 Commerce Department reports targeting industries “from computers to autos,” according to a Christian Science Monitor report, that helped show Congressmen how NAFTA would help their constituents. In October of that year, former CEO of the Chrysler Corporation, Lee Iacocca, stood on the White House South Lawn with hundreds of products (and businessmen) touting what the Administration believed would thrive under NAFTA. Under the white tents, Clinton joked to a pro-trade union man that he would wear the man’s company hat if he gave a speech. A month later, the House passed the bill in a squeaker and the Senate did shortly thereafter.

This time around, Republicans are hoping for another all-out Administration effort on TPP and the “fast-track” bill, which would allow limited congressional debate, no amendments, and an up-or-down vote. The Administration says such a bill is vital to pass TPP, as countries would be less willing to negotiate if they knew Congress could make large changes to the deal. But liberals are livid with Obama’s trade talk; they set up a press conference Wednesday to air out their concerns.

“The typical business plan in this country because of trade and tax policies: You shut down production in Cleveland and you move it to Beijing and sell the products back to the United States,” said Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown after the State of the Union. “That makes no sense. And he’s wrong on that as his predecessors were.”

“If you think that previous trade agreements. . . have done well, you should support the TPP,” said Sanders. “But if you believe, as I do, that they have been disastrous, that they have cost us millions of decent paying jobs, then it make no sense to go forward in a failed policy and it should be defeated. . . . At the end of the day, among many other concerns, American workers are going to be forced to compete against people in Vietnam who make a minimum wage of 56 cents an hour.”

Still pro-trade lawmakers like Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill believe that Obama can bring “enough” Democrats to pass a “fast-track” trade bill. Democratic Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, who supported the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 but opposed the more recent trade agreement bills with South Korea, Panama and Columbia, said Obama “probably” has the votes now to pass a TPA bill through Congress, although it’s easier in the Senate than House, where some conservatives have also raised an uproar about giving more power to the President.

The White House has recently increased its outreach efforts, tasking every Cabinet member to divvy up and target 80 House Democrats, according to the Hill newspaper. In an email Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker told TIME that the trade agenda is a “top priority” for the Administration. “We are taking an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to getting this done,” she said. “We are all out talking not only to members of Congress but to business leaders and workers around the country, telling the story of why trade and exports matter.”

The United State Trade Representative office touts that over nearly five years it has held over 1,600 congressional briefings on TPP. United States Trade Ambassador Michael Froman rebutted liberals’ concerns in a press conference on Wednesday, saying that manufacturing jobs are coming back from overseas and that export-related jobs pay 13 to 18 percent more than other jobs. “It gives us the opportunity to protect workers, protect the environment and level the playing field,” said Froman of TPP.

Still, Obama has a ways to go in getting broad support for both TPA and TPP. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a member of the Democratic leadership and Finance Committee, says “many of us wouldn’t support” TPA unless it addressed some China-related concerns. And the top Democrat on the influential Ways and Means Committee, Michigan Rep. Sandy Levin, says the Administration, Congress and outside groups need to immediately “tear apart” other outstanding issues, including those related to the environment and currency manipulation.

“I think it’s a mistake essentially to say let’s fast-track a package when there isn’t a real understanding of the issues and their resolution,” he said. “So that should be the focus right now and that will be the strong basis for getting bipartisan support. If we don’t do that, I don’t think there’s a chance that there will be bipartisan support.”

MONEY The Economy

The 2015 State of the Union Address In Under 2 Minutes

President Barack Obama highlighted the recovering economy as well as proposals for free community college, increasing trade with Cuba, and building more infrastructure.

TIME State of the Union 2015

The State of the Union Has Already Given 2016 Republicans a Headache

Rep. Steve King speaks with reporters at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa on Aug. 8, 2014.
Rep. Steve King speaks with reporters at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa on Aug. 8, 2014. Tom Williams—AP

President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech was still hours away from being delivered when it created a headache for likely Republican presidential candidates.

In a tweet posted around 6 p.m., Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who takes a hard-line stance against illegal immigration, called one of First Lady Michelle Obama’s guests “a deportable.”

King was referring to Ana Zamora, a 21-year-old college senior from Dallas who benefited from Obama’s 2012 executive order allowing people brought to the United States illegally as children to defer deportation. That program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, upset many congressional Republicans, who voted narrowly on a symbolic effort to overturn it last week, but it is widely popular among Latino voters.

It’s hardly unusual for King to make controversial statements about immigration, but the timing is trickier. On Saturday, he’ll be hosting a number of likely Republican presidential candidates at the Iowa Freedom Summit, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina.

They should expect to be asked about the phrase “a deportable” when they arrive in Iowa

TIME state of the union

Here’s What John Boehner Said About Joe Biden’s Suit at Last Year’s State of the Union

"He was stepping out a little bit and I wanted him to know"

There are sure to be some buzzworthy moments during Tuesday’s State of the Union address, with cameras picking up lawmakers’ reactions and interactions during the live telecast.

After all, the Twitter conversation has become an increasingly large part of the State of the Union. Last year, House Speaker John Boehner inspired a flurry of tweets when he adjusted Vice President Joe Biden’s suit.

On Tuesday, Boehner shared the story behind the image. The Ohio congressman says he just thought Biden looked good.

“His suit and tie looked pretty nice, fancy,” Boehner says. “I wanted him to know that I noticed that I thought he was stepping out a little bit with his fancy suit.”

TIME White House

How 7 Ideas in the State of the Union Would Affect You

President Barack Obama threw out a lot of big ideas during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, but how would they affect you? Here’s a quick look at seven proposals he previewed even before the speech, in order of how likely they are to be enacted soon.

See TIME’s full State of the Union coverage here

Reducing mortgage premiums

The idea: Obama proposed reducing mortgage insurance premiums on government-backed loans rates in order to make it easier for low-income Americans to buy homes.

What he’s said: “For us, and millions of Americans like us, buying a home has always been about more than owning a roof and four walls. It’s about investing in savings, and building a family, and planting roots in a community … I’m going to take a new action to help even more responsible families stake their claim on the middle class and buy their first new home.” (Jan. 8, 2015)

How it would affect you: The proposal would cut insurance fees for homes bought with Federal Housing Administration-backed loans, saving borrowers an average of $900 a year.

Will it happen: Yes. The policy will be implemented by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is under Obama’s control.

MORE Obama Cuts Mortgage Insurance Premiums to Help Low-Income Home Buyers

Expanding travel to Cuba

The idea: Obama called for normalizing relations with Cuba, a process he’s already started by easing travel and commercial restrictions with the island nation.

What he’s said: “Neither the American, nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born… I believe that we can do more to support the Cuban people and promote our values through engagement. After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.” (Dec. 17, 2014)

How it would affect you: You will soon be able to catch a flight directly to Cuba without getting a special license, use credit and debit cards there and bring back cigars.

Will it happen: Mostly. Obama has already taken steps to restore relations with Cuba, although Congress is unlikely to lift the 54-year-old trade embargo anytime soon.

MORE U.S. And Cuba Move to Thaw Relations After Prisoner Exchange

Cutting methane emissions

The idea: Obama called for reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas industry by fixing leaky equipment and reducing “flaring” of natural gas.

What he’s said: Speaking about a photograph of Earth from space: “And that image in the photograph, that bright blue ball rising over the moon’s surface, containing everything we hold dear — the laughter of children, a quiet sunset, all the hopes and dreams of posterity — that’s what’s at stake. That’s what we’re fighting for.” (June 25, 2013)

How it would affect you: Depending on where you live, the proposal could raise your energy rates. It would also reduce a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Will it happen: Likely. The proposal is part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard rules-making process, which Obama oversees.

MORE White House Targets Methane to Slow Climate Change

Preventing ‘fast lanes’ on the Internet

The idea: Obama called for the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify broadband Internet as a utility, which would give regulators more power over providers like Comcast.

What he’s said: “High-speed broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. … This is about helping local businesses grow and prosper and compete in a global economy. It’s about giving the entrepreneur, the small businessperson on Main Street a chance to compete with the folks out in Silicon Valley, or across the globe.” (Jan. 14, 2015)

How it would affect you: Some Internet providers want to offer so-called “fast lanes” for customers who pay more. This proposal would likely bar that.

Will it happen? Unclear. The FCC is an independent agency, but Obama’s backing gives the idea much more prominence in the debate.

MORE All Your Questions About Obama’s Internet Plan Answered

Notifying consumers of data hacks

The idea: Obama called on Congress to pass the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act, which would require companies to notify customers within 30 days if they’d been hacked.

What he’s said: “If we’re going to be connected, then we need to be protected. As Americans, we shouldn’t have to forfeit our basic privacy when we go online to do our business.” (Jan. 12, 2015)

How it would affect you: Over the last year, JPMorgan Chase, Target, Home Depot and P.F. Chang’s have all had data breaches. You might hear sooner about those if they affect you.

Will it happen: Unclear. Many states already require companies notify affected customers, so it’s not too heavy of a lift to call for a national standard.

MORE The One Foolproof Thing You Can Do to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Making community college free

The idea: Obama proposed the federal government work with states to offer two years of free community-college tuition to students who maintain good grades.

What he’s said: “For millions of Americans, community colleges are essential pathways to the middle class because they’re local, they’re flexible. They work for people who work full-time. They work for parents who have to raise kids full-time. They work for folks who have gone as far as their skills will take them and want to earn new ones…” (Jan. 9, 2015)

How it would affect you: If you’re looking to go to community college, you could save $3,800 a year on tuition. You could then use existing financial aid programs for housing and books.

Will it happen: Unlikely. Congressional Republicans are not likely to go along with the plan, which would cost up to $60 billion over 10 years.

MORE Obama Proposes 2 Years of Free Community College

Offering paid sick leave

The idea: Obama called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would require companies to offer workers an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work.

What he’s said: “There are 43 million Americans who don’t get paid sick leave, which when you think about it is a pretty astonishing statistic. And that means that no matter how sick they are, or how sick a family member is, they may find themselves having to choose to be able to buy groceries or pay the rent, or look after themselves or their children.” (Jan. 15, 2015)

How it would affect you: Right now, most employers are required to offer up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for family health problems, but many workers can’t afford to take it.

Will it happen: Unlikely. Hill Republicans are unlikely to even allow a vote on the bill, which had only Democratic sponsors in the last Congress.

MORE President Obama Wants You to Get Paid, Even When You’re on Leave

Read next: Here’s the Full Text of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union

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TIME state of the union

The 7 Types of Jokes in Obama’s State of the Union Addresses

President Obama Delivers State Of The Union Address At U.S. Capitol
President Obama Delivers State Of The Union Address At U.S. Capitol in 2014. Larry Downing—Pool/Getty Images

The State of the Union is sort of like a long work meeting. Because it’s so tedious, even the lamest joke will get a hearty laugh.

That’s not to say that President Obama can’t be funny. Like most recent presidents, he’s gotten genuine laughs poking fun at himself and others at the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner and the Gridiron Club.

But those are actual jokes. The lines from the State of the Union that get laughs are something else entirely — those kind of “work hard … hardly working” things that Michael Scott would get uncomfortable groans for on “The Office.”

Here’s a guide to the seven types of Obama jokes you’ll hear Tuesday, in order of least to (al)most funny.

The Pun

There is no lower form of humor than the pun, but for some reason Obama has seen fit to include it in the most serious annual speech he gives.

Example: “In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs. Many businesses have done it on their own. Nick Chute is here today with his boss, John Soranno. John’s an owner of Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, and Nick helps make the dough. [Laughter] Only now he makes more of it. [Laughter]” — 2014

Was it funny? No. This isn’t even a dad joke. It’s a grandpa joke.

The Dad Joke

While not a pun per se, this is a joke that depends on some lame play on words that would get you kicked out of a junior high cafeteria.

Example: “We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill, because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk. [Laughter]” — 2012

Was it funny? No. This joke is so bad it makes us feel like sending a condolence card to Sasha and Malia for enduring their father’s sense of humor.

The Pop Culture Reference

There’s nothing wrong with a well-placed reference to pop culture. Comedians use it to great effect all the time. But there are times when it’s just lazy.

Example: “Women deserve equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or a sick parent without running into hardship. And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.” [Laughter]” — 2014

Was it funny? No. Although, in Obama’s defense, it’s not even clear this was supposed to be funny.

The Self-Deprecating Joke

Obama is on surer footing when he makes jokes that shows he is self-aware, especially given the intensely partisan audience at the State of the Union.

Example: “And if you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who’s here tonight. Now, Kentucky is not the most liberal part of the country. That’s not where I got my highest vote totals. [Laughter]” — 2014

Was it funny? Sort of. This is more “snort gently through your nose” funny than “laugh out loud” funny, but it’s approaching actual humor.

The Subtle Dig

Obama can be a little sarcastic at times, but when he wields that weapon gently, he can score a good point off his political opponents.

Example: “So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, increase choice, tell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up. But let’s not have another 40-something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda. The first 40 were plenty. [Laughter]” — 2014

Was it funny? Sure. It wasn’t the only time that Obama’s gotten a joke out of Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act, either.

The Aside

The State of the Union is heavily scripted, but there are still moments when Obama breaks away, usually in response to the audience’s reaction — the way a late-night talk show host might milk a moment.

Example: “We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. [Applause] I thought I’d get some applause on that one. [Laughter]” — 2010

Was it funny? Sure. This is one of those moments that’s more about the delivery than the line itself, but we’re grading on a curve here.

The Reader’s Digest Joke

There’s never going to be a truly subversive joke in the State of the Union. But there are lines that can come close to something you might find in the “Life in These United States” column in Reader’s Digest.

Example: “Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying, without the pat-down. [Laughter]” — 2011

Was it funny? Yes. Everyone can relate to the hassles of going through airport security and the joke is unexpected enough to be funny. More jokes like this, please.

TIME Environment

A Bad Day for Climate Change Deniers … and the Planet

Deeper, hotter, sicker—and the oceans are only part of it
Deeper, hotter, sicker—and the oceans are only part of it Roc Canals Photography; Getty Images/Flickr Select

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.

Three new studies offer new proof of how bad the earth's fever has gotten

It’s not often that the climate change deniers get clobbered three times in just two days. But that’s what happened with the release of a trio of new studies that ought to serve as solid body blows to the fading but persistent fiction that human-mediated warming is somehow a hoax. Good news for the forces of reason, however, is bad news for the planet—especially the oceans.

The most straightforward of the three studies was a report from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirming what a lot of people who sweltered through 2014 already suspected: the year is entering the record books as the hottest ever since reliable records started being kept in 1880—and the results weren’t even close.

Average global surface temperature worldwide was 58.24ºF (14.58º C) — surpassing previous records set in 2005 and 2007 — and making 2014 a full 2ºF (1.1ºC) hotter than the average for the entire 20th century. And before you say 2ºF doesn’t seem like much, think about whether you’d prefer to run a fever of 99ºF or 101ºF. The planet is every bit as sensitive to small variations as you are.

“Today’s news is a clear and undeniable warning for all of us that we need to cut climate pollution and prepare for what’s coming,” said Lou Leonard, vice president for climate change at the World Wildlife Fund.

When it concerns the ocean, what’s coming may already be here. A sobering study in Nature looked at sea level rise in both the periods from 1901 to 1990 and from 1993 to 2010 in an attempt to sort out a seeming inconsistency: measurements from 622 tide gauges around the world showed that levels had risen 6 in. (15.24 cm) over the past century, but computer models and other tools put the figure at only 5 in. (12.7 cm). Here too, what seems like a little is actually a lot: a single inch of water spread around all of the planet’s oceans and seas represents two quadrillion gallons of water.

This could have meant good news, since it might have indicated that we’d overestimated the impact of melting glaciers and ice caps. But new computer modeling recalculated the degree of sea level rise over the last century and found that the tide gauges had it right all along, and the only thing that was wrong was that sea levels had risen more slowly than believed in the 90 years that followed 1900, and much faster in the 17 years from 1993 to 2010 — close to three times as fast per year. What does that mean in the long term? Perhaps 3 ft. (0.9 m) greater increase by the end of this century if we keep on the way we’re going.

Finally, according to the journal Science, at the same time sea levels are rising higher, marine life forms are growing sicker, with a “major extinction event” a very real possibility. All through the oceans, the signs of ecosystem breakdown are evident: the death of coral reefs, the collapse of fish stocks, the migration of species from waters that have grown too warm for them to the patches that remain cool enough.

What’s more, the increase in the number of massive container ships crossing the oceans has resulted in a growing number of collisions with whales — encounters in which the animals wind up the losers. Seafloor mining and bottom-trawling nets both plunder fish populations and further damage the environment in which deepwater species can live.

“Humans,” wrote the authors of the Science paper, “have already powerfully changed virtually all major marine ecosystems.”

No part of this bad-news trifecta is likely to change the minds of the rump faction of climate deniers — particularly in Washington. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who is set to assume chairmanship of the committee that oversees science in general and NASA in particular had this to say to CNN about climate change: “The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened.”

He’s wrong on the facts — as the new temperature readings demonstrate — and wrong on his interpretation of the science which shows that the rate of atmospheric warming has indeed slowed a bit in the past decade and a half. The reason for that seeming happy development is not that climate change isn’t real, but that the oceans, for now, are sopping up more heat than anticipated—see, for example, those migrating fish.

Meantime, Cruz’s Oklahoma colleague Senator James Inhofe is set to become chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. This is the same Inhofe who persists in his very vocal belief that climate change is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” and that even if it is true, it might actually be good for the world.

Ultimately, reason will prevail; in the long arc of scientific history it usually does. How much ocean and atmosphere and wildlife we’ll have left when that happens, however, is another matter entirely.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Congress

Why Republicans Want to Give President Obama More Power

Barack Obama John Boehner
US President Barack Obama (R) talks with Speaker of the House, John Boehner, R-Ohio, during a meeting with the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Sept. 9, 2014. Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

The politics of passing the largest trade agreement ever—further tying the economies of 12 countries nested on the Pacific Ocean, an area larger than the Earth’s landmass—is complex, to say the least.

But House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, a pivotal figure on trade in his new perch, appears optimistic that Congress can pass a major bill that would give President Obama greater authority to negotiate an agreement known as the Trans Pacific Partnership, which would affect about 40% of the world’s GDP and about a third of the world’s trade. That is, as long as Obama does his part, of course.

“This is an area we can find common ground with the President, but we need the President to engage,” said Ryan, still sporting his hunting beard at the GOP joint Senate-House retreat, a first for the party in 10 years. “We need the president to engage on this issue with his own party. We need him to make it a priority in the State of the Union. We need him to work with his party to help get votes.”

Ryan’s statement, echoed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, underlines the difficulties in getting a deal sought by Obama for years. Granting “fast-track” authority, which would allow limited congressional debate, no amendments and an up-or-down vote, poses political perils across the aisle. Liberals, backed by labor unions like AFL-CIO, have raised concerns that TPP will exacerbate income inequality and have already begun planning how they could slow down the process in the Senate. Last month, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren expressed concern that TPP could increase U.S. access to risky financial products and take away regulators’ tools over foreign banks “to prevent the next crisis.”

And even though a new Republican-controlled Senate increases the number of pro-trade congressmen, conservatives have been furious with Obama’s executive actions—voting in the House on Wednesday to claw back years of his immigration decrees—and will be hard pressed to grant the Administration the leverage it needs to negotiate. Ryan points out that the Republican party, however, is largely pro-trade.

“By and large the vast majority of our members are in favor of getting these kinds of trade agreements because they know it’s good for business,” said Ryan. “The question that obviously you hear about is should we give this president TPA? TPA is asserting congressional prerogatives early in the process. So it’s a good thing no matter who the president is … and to make sure we get the best deal.”

Still, there is already sniping that the other party could tank the deal before congressional leaders even announce a goal of a timeline of when they would like to pass TPA.

“The one thing we have found time and time again is where are the 50 Democrats,” asked McCarthy, before noting that last year Obama urged Congress for a trade bill in his State of the Union address and then didn’t talk about it a day latter in a private meeting with then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “The President has to lean in,” said McCarthy.

Some Democrats have said privately that it may be conservatives who tank the trade efforts.

“I think Republicans are going to confront the reality that doing TPA now goes against their central complaint about giving more authority to the president of the United States,” says a House Democratic aide. “They’ve been criticizing the president for months—if not longer—that he’s the emperor-in-chief. And yet they’re going to grant him basically complete authority to put a trade agreement in front of Congress and get an up-and-down vote? The closer this gets to that happening, the more their inexperienced members become familiar with the topic, they’re going to confront challenges in the party.”

If Congress doesn’t pass a trade-promotion authority bill, other countries will be more hesitant to engage in commitments with the U.S. since Congress could amend the deal. But members of Congress have a number of trade concerns spanning labor, environmental and intellectual property issues. In 2013, 60 senators and 230 representatives urged the Administration to address currency manipulation and exchange rate policies that they said could increase the trade deficit and kill jobs.

But Republican leaders at a retreat in Hershey, Pa.—“The Sweetest Place on Earth”—seem willing to work to overcome those obstacles.

TIME Congress

Immigration Sours GOP’s Sweet Retreat

From left, Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., prepare to board a tour bus to join Senate and House Republicans at a two-day policy retreat in Hershey, Pa. on Jan. 14, 2015, in Washington.
From left, Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., prepare to board a tour bus to join Senate and House Republicans at a two-day policy retreat in Hershey, Pa. on Jan. 14, 2015 in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite—AP

The sour topic here at “The Sweetest Place on Earth” is immigration.

In Hershey, Pa., at the Republicans’ first dual-chamber retreat in 10 years, conservative and moderate members debated the right strategy to protest the president’s recent executive actions deferring deportations for up to five million immigrants who have come to the country illegally.

“I think we’ve not handled the [immigration] issue well,” said California Rep. Jeff Denham, who voted against a GOP amendment this week that would roll back the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has temporarily deferred deportation for hundreds of thousands of young adults who were brought to the country as children.

“Just throwing DACA out there without having a reform bill I think brings great concern not only from the Senate colleagues I talked to but from the folks in my district I’ve talked to,” he said.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a member of the GOP leadership, reminded reporters that the “magic number” in the Senate is 60 when asked how the chamber would consider a House bill passed Wednesday that ties the immigration fight to funding the Department of Homeland Security past its Feb. 27 deadline. While House and Senate Republicans have the “same goals” on reining in Obama, Thune said that there “may be different ways and approaches to this issue.”

Meanwhile, House conservatives are proud of the bill passed in their chamber this week, which would not only negate the president’s November immigration executive actions, but also several others going back years, including DACA. Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon said that the House has a “very, very united front” on its immigration bill. He said that the overall message he is getting from leadership is “we’re going to work our will.”

“We’re going to work our will and we’re going to send it over and stop worrying on what can get to 60 out of the Senate,” he said. “If we do that with enough time to respond then it’s a good process.”

Top Republican congressional leaders acknowledged the need to address a broken immigration system, but specifics past border security are hard to nail down. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul announced Thursday night that his committee will introduce “the most significant and toughest border security bill ever before Congress.” Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, acknowledged that the GOP needs a “a positive immigration plan for the country.” House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan said that more and more Congressmen are recognizing that Republicans can’t fix issues like immigration unless it wins the White House and said it was “premature” to talk about immigration reform legislation that could pass this Congress, as the conference continues to develop its agenda.

“We are a country of immigrants,” he said. “Immigration is good for America. It’s important for jobs, for economic growth. It’s just that we want to have legal immigration. We want to have the rule of law restored. We want to fix this broken immigration system. I think most members agree with that.”

Other House and Senate party leaders acknowledged that Republicans have not yet agreed upon a strategy to fund DHS and oppose the president’s immigration actions. After the House passed its bill, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid tweeted that the “pointless, political” bill wouldn’t get the necessary 60 votes in the Senate.

Ironically, as TPM and others have noted, the fee-funded program that processes deportation relief and work permits wouldn’t be nearly as affected in the case of a DHS shutdown as border security and deportation efforts—Republican priorities funded through the appropriations process.

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