TIME faith

Inside Pope Francis’ U.S. Trip Schedule

Vatican Pope Francis'
Massimo Valicchia—NurPhoto/AP Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City, on June 24, 2015.

The schedule says a lot about Pope Francis' focus

Pope Francis’ schedule is almost always a political document. Everyone wants a piece of it, especially when it comes to his upcoming September trip to the U.S. The White House and Congress, not to mention outside groups, have been lobbying for months to try to influence his agenda. On Tuesday morning, the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the official schedule for the trip. Predictably, it is packed. Pope Francis will visit Cuba and the U.S. from Sept. 19-28—four days in Cuba, five in the U.S—and give a total of 26 addresses, 18 of them in the U.S.

The world has known the big-ticket items for months—a meeting with President Obama, an address to the U.S. Congress, a talk at the United Nations, and a mass in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. But the other events hold just as powerful a message. The logistics are often the key to understanding the entire agenda—where Pope Francis is, who he is with, where he is coming from and where he is going next say as much about his message as his words themselves.

This schedule shows the Pope’s diplomatic acumen from the start. Pope Francis comes to Washington only after giving first dibs to Cuba, an island that the U.S. had blackballed economically until he intervened in December. And, Pope Francis will fly directly from there to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington DC, symbolizing the new link he helped to forge between the two nations.

Once he has arrived in the U.S., Pope Francis establishes a pattern—he links political events with pastoral ones. His first full day in Washington, the Pope will meet with Obama at the White House, and then leave to hold midday prayer with the U.S. bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. It is tradition for the pope to gather the bishops when he visits, and leaving the White House for a church shows the value Francis places on the work of the church and its leaders.

The next day, immediately after speaking to the U.S. Congress, he will visit Catholic Charities, the social outreach ministry of the Archdiocese of Washington, which does extensive work to serve the area’s poor, homeless and immigrant communities. The juxtaposition is a not-so-subtle hint about who Pope Francis hopes political leaders will be—politicians who serve the poor, instead of staying isolated in the halls of power.

The pattern continues in New York, where Pope Francis will begin his time with an evening prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral before addressing the U.N. the next morning. From there, he will—again—go directly to an interfaith service at the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center. It is another statement about the importance of solidarity, especially between Christians and Muslims in the face of global extremism. Pope Benedict visited Ground Zero to pray in 2008, but Francis is taking it to another level with an interfaith focus. He will then visit a Catholic elementary school in East Harlem, and celebrate mass in Madison Square Garden.

When Pope Francis goes to Philadelphia, the pattern shifts, but only slightly. The World Meeting of Families, a Catholic gathering of families every three years hosted this time in Philadelphia, was from the start the reason for his trip to the U.S. Here, Francis adds specifically political moments to a primarily pastoral visit. In addition to celebrating mass at the Cathedral Basilica, visiting the Festival of Families, and meeting the bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia’s largest prison, the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. What Pope Francis will do there remains to be seen, but his mere presence will both highlight high incarceration rates in the U.S. and make it hard to ignore the Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty.

The whole trip concludes with an outdoor mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where Pope John Paul II celebrated mass in 1979.

Francis’ schedule is like a liturgy. It is a roadmap to guide the desired focus of, and communal participation in, his message. And the places he has chosen—Catholic Charities in Washington, a school in Harlem, an interfaith service at Ground Zero, a prison in Philadelphia—will likely end up saying as much about what Francis’ focus is as anything else.

TIME Gay Marriage

Why the Next Gay Rights Push Will Be Different

An anti-discrimination bill won't be limited to gays and lesbians

The Senator leading the push for a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill in Congress tells TIME that he is working with civil rights groups so the coming legislation isn’t just about being gay or lesbian.

Within hours of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling granting same-sex couples the right to marry in every state, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon was laying the groundwork for a sweeping bill that would expand gay rights even further. He says he plans to introduce within the next two months. “We need to put forward a bill that captures that full range. We cannot nibble around the edges,” he said in an interview.

Friday’s ruling, while a tremendous milestone for gay rights, had no effect on what conservative attorney Ted Olson, who argued California’s landmark same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court, called a “crazy quilt” of laws that unequally treat gays and lesbians.

Indeed, more than 206 million Americans — nearly two thirds of the country — live in states where employers can be fired someone for being gay. Only 18 states and the District of Columbia prohibit housing discrimination based on a tenant’s sexuality or sexual identity. Three others prohibit discrimination based on sexuality. The remaining 166 million Americans live in states where landlords can evict someone for their sexuality.

That’s why Merkley is working with fellow Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Cory Booker of New Jersey on the Senate’s version of a sweeping non-discrimination law that would bar individuals from being denied services—including housing and jobs but also mortgages and education—based on their sexuality. In the House, efforts are being led by Rhode Island’s David Cicilline, an openly gay lawmaker, and civil rights icon John Lewis of Georgia.

“Equal dignity involves equal opportunity. It involves equality in the basic functions of our society,” Merkley said. “There should be the ability for the LGBT community to fully participate without discrimination.”

Merkley is also working with a coalition that includes the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and National Council on La Raza. The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Women’s Law Center and the Human Rights Campaign are also lending their advice to Merkley’s drafting process.

“We want to place nondiscrimination for the LBGT community on the same foundation as is anti-discrimination in the Civil Rights Act,” Merkley said.

The politics, however, could be tricky. Neither House Speaker John Boehner nor Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was a fan of earlier gay rights proposals. Yet that was before the Supreme Court decided all Americans have the right to marry. No Republican is yet publicly working with Merkley’s council.

“There is a sense of acceleration on this. There has been a huge change, year by year,” Merkley said. “The inherent logic is that if you believe that every individual should be able to be married with the person that they love, then you believe that every individual should pursue employment without discrimination. … You surely also believe that people should have equal access to mortgages, equal access to public accommodations, equal access to housing, equal access to all of the fundamentals of our society that give a person a full chance to participate and to thrive.”

TIME Beer

Congress Could Strip Samuel Adams Of Its Craft Beer Crown

Oktoberfest Sponsored By The Village Voice Presented By Jagermeister Hosted By Andrew Zimmern - Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented By FOOD & WINE
Cindy Ord—2014 Getty Images A view of Samuel Adams at Oktoberfest sponsored by The Village Voice presented by Jagermeister hosted by Andrew Zimmern during the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented By FOOD & WINE at Studio Square on October 19, 2014 in New York City.

Congress is ready to get into the craft beer business, which could mean bad news for big batch craft brewers like Sam Adams.

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, proposed the new Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act that would give the U.S. government the right to define who is and isn’t a craft brewer.

The law essentially redefines the tax structure for small to mid-size brewers and would, accordingly, group them into three categories based on new excise taxes, which was outlined by MarketWatch.

  1. The craft brewers, those producing under 2 million barrels per year would get the deepest tax cuts.
  2. The mid-size brewers, those producing 6 million barrels or less, get a slight tax break.
  3. The macro brewers, which don’t get a tax break beyond their first 6 million barrels of production.

It’s a technicality, essentially a quirk of the law that would group companies for tax purposes. But, it would leave a number of big-name craft brewers out of the first category and in a higher tax bracket. That includes Boston Beer Co., which produces 4.1 million barrels (including non-beer beverages such as Angry Orchard cider and Twisted Tea), as well as Yuengling (2.7 million barrels) and North American Breweries (about 2.6 million barrels) with its Magic Hat, Pyramid and other brands.

Given Boston Beer’s recent production growth, almost 20% per year, it could possibly enter the macro brewer league in less than three years.

Until now, to be labeled a craft beer, breweries had to fit within restrictions designated by the Brewers Association craft beer industry group that involved barrels of production, percentage of a brewery owned by a non-craft brewer and more “traditional” aspects.

The industry self-policer has been somewhat accommodating to its peers in years past. It raised the barrel-production limit to 6 million from 2 million in 2010 to allow Boston Beer to lay claim to the craft beer title.

Boston Beer has been on a production tear in recent years, averaging more than 20% growth annually. If it stays the course, it could possibly reach the 6-million-plus macro brewer league in less than three years, leaving its craft brewing title far behind.

TIME Supreme Court

A Guide to the Supreme Court’s Latest Obamacare Case

What you need to know

If you’re most Americans, you haven’t been paying attention to the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Obamacare.

A recent poll from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that 72 percent of Americans had heard little or nothing about a lawsuit which could dramatically transform how the Affordable Care Act is implemented.

A decision in King v. Burwell could come as early as Thursday.

That means you probably have questions. Here are some answers.

Could the court decision end Obamacare?

No. Unlike the Supreme Court’s big 2012 decision on the law’s mandate that you buy health insurance, this case doesn’t have a big constitutional question at its heart. The only issue for the court is a narrow technical question about how the law was worded.

So, what is the court deciding?

The case revolves around whether people who live in states that use the federal Healthcare.gov website — and not their own state-run marketplace — can receive subsidies for their insurance costs. Conservatives who filed the suit say the law doesn’t allow that, while liberal defenders argue that section of the law was just poorly worded.

Who will the decision affect?

The Obama Administration estimates that 6.4 million Americans in 34 states would be at risk of losing the subsidies that made their insurance affordable if the Supreme Court rules against it. Other customers could also see higher prices if the decision adversely affects the insurance market in their state.

Which states would be affected?

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

What will the Administration do if the court rules against it?

The Administration says it has no “plan B.” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who is named in the case, has repeatedly argued that the President’s hands are tied. That means Obama will have to rely on Congress or the states to fix the problem.

What will Congress do?

It’s hard to say. Republicans control both the House and the Senate, and they’re generally opposed to the Affordable Care Act. But many GOP lawmakers think Congress will need to do something. One possibility would be to simply extend the subsidies through 2017, to allow a new — and possibly Republican — president come up with a long-term solution. But Republicans may also want some concessions from President Obama in exchange, such as ending the requirement that individuals buy health insurance. Obama is unlikely to sign a bill that chips away at major features of the law, however.

What happens if Congress doesn’t act?

The problem will fall to the states. Unlike Congress, there’s no simple fix. States would have to start the laborious process of creating their own insurance marketplaces or else find some workaround, like officially designating the federal Healthcare.gov site as their own or borrowing another state’s marketplace. It’s unclear at this point what the options may even be.

Do the states have a plan?

Most do not. Pennsylvania and Delaware have put together plans to create their own exchanges by next year, which would allow residents to continue getting subsidies. But with 26 of the 34 states led by Republican governors — many of whom are opposed to Obamacare — few states have been planning ahead.

What do the 2016 presidential candidates think should be done?

The Democratic presidential candidates will likely argue for Congress to pass a simple fix with no strings attached, although former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not said exactly what she would propose. The GOP field is divided, but several support some sort of transition period to extend the subsidies long enough to allow the next (possibly Republican) president to have the final say. That would make the future of the Affordable Care Act a major campaign issue for the fourth consecutive election.

Read Next: How Obamacare Has Impacted The Uninsured Rate

TIME Innovation

Fight Prison Gangs by Breaking Up Big Prisons

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. America’s biggest prisons are factories exporting prison gangs. Break them up.

By David Skarbek and Courtney Michaluk in Politico

2. Find out why demographics and a charismatic leader still aren’t enough to make a majority party.

By Suzy Khimm in the New Republic

3. Denied a seat at the table of global power, the BRICS nations are building their own table.

By Shashi Tharoor in Project Syndicate

4. With an implanted treatment that blocks a narcotic high, one doctor wants to end addiction.

By Sujata Gupta in Mosaic Science

5. Your next insurance inspector could be a drone.

By Cameron Graham in Technology Advice

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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 global trade

Democrats Borrow From the Republican Playbook

The Senate leader faced a wall of press on the second floor of the Capitol, just outside the chamber, his face a mask of outrage: “They were going to try to stop the Senate in its tracks from passing bipartisan legislation until they got what they wanted…” he fumed.

Until January, this could have been virtually any Democrat, railing against Republicans taking the debt ceiling, the budget or any number of bills held hostage to extract budget cuts. But, the last five words Texas Republican John Cornyn uttered last Tuesday showed the complete turnaround: “…when it comes to spending.”

Now in the minority, Democrats have taken a page from the Republican playbook.

In their eight years in the minority, Republicans under the leadership of Mitch McConnell, developed a strategy of routine filibustering—requiring a supermajority of 60 votes—until they extracted concessions. This tactic was most evident in the debt ceiling negotiations, where Republicans in recent years demanded cuts equal to the amount the ceiling was raised. Now, Republicans are getting a taste of how frustrating such maneuvers can be for the party in power: Democrats are holding legislation hostage. Only they aren’t seeking to extract more cuts; they’re looking for more money.

Take the trade bill that cleared a major procedural vote 60-37 in the Senate Tuesday morning. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tried last week to hold portions of this bill hostage to extract a more favorable highway trust fund deal, which is also pending before Congress. While that gambit failed, her Senate counterparts succeeded in using the trade measure, sought by many Republicans, to leverage concessions on steel protections and quick passage of a bill designed to help poor African countries gain better access to U.S. markets.

And trade is only the beginning. The bill Cornyn was referring to with such apoplexy last week was the National Defense Authorization Act, which organizes and oversees the Pentagon annually. Republicans inserted into that bill a clause that would enable them to restore military cuts from the sequester, painful across the board spending cuts that are a legacy of one of the GOP’s hostage episodes in 2011. Democrats last week allowed the NDAA to pass, but they are holding hostage the funding in all 13 of the annual appropriations bills until Republicans agree to either leave the Pentagon cuts in place or allow equal increases in entitlement spending as was originally envisioned in the 2011 deal. If Republicans don’t find a way to satisfy Democratic demands, the government will shut down again come the end of September.

And then in October, we have an oldie but goodie: the debt ceiling. Though Senate Democratic leadership has said they want a clean extension, some Democrats are already dreaming up what they’d like to see funded in order to allow that one through. Some candidates: the highway trust fund, if that can gets kicked down the road again, and No Child Left Behind reauthorization.

As Bishop Robert Sanderson once told British King Charles I in the 1630’s, “Whosoever thou art that dost another wrong, do but turn the tables: imagine thy neighbour were now playing a game, and thou his.” A young Sir Isaac Newton studied Sanderson at Cambridge; Washington could only hope that some logic may yet emerge from the bitter experience of turning the Senate’s chess table.

TIME Criminal Justice

Bipartisan Push for Criminal Justice Reform Sets Its Agenda

Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, participates in a session on "Strategic Communication" at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, on February 26, 2015.
NICHOLAS KAMM—AFP/Getty Images Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, participates in a session on "Strategic Communication" at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, on February 26, 2015.

But specifics are a casualty of the search for consensus

A bipartisan coalition leading a landmark push for criminal-justice reform has set its agenda, but many of the details remain to be filled in.

The Coalition for Public Safety, which includes some of the most influential policy groups on the right and left, announced a new campaign Monday to reform sentencing laws and reintegrate offenders back into society.

“We see these ideas as the baseline for how we can reduce the existing prison population,” said Christine Leonard, the group’s executive director, “as well as support individuals coming home.”

The announcement was a sign of how far the movement has come, but also a sign of how much work remains to be done to begin enacting its goals.

The group includes liberal outfits like the Center for American Progress and the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as conservative organizations like Americans for Tax Reform and Right on Crime. The multi-million dollar initiative is underwritten by donors as disparate as Koch Industries and the Ford Foundation. For these fractious factions, the ability to coalesce around a set of policy objectives is no small task. But a casualty of the search for consensus has been specifics.

Read More: Will Congress Reform the Criminal Justice System?

In a conference call Monday with reporters, the group said it would launch a national education campaign to mobilize public support for some of its priorities with the broadest support, including reducing the length of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders, curtailing sentences of life without parole, promoting alternatives to incarceration and removing obstacles that impede transitions back to the workforce for the one-in-three Americans with a criminal record.

But after months of meetings, the recommendations were modest in scope and light on detail. “These reforms are only the beginning of what lawmakers can do,” said Jason Pye, director of messaging and justice reform at the Tea Party-aligned group FreedomWorks.

Nor is it clear that the recommendations will do much to sway them. Despite growing consensus around the need to reform a system that critics call bloated and broken, there has been little little legislative movement. A raft of bipartisan proposals have languished in a divided Congress.

“Some of the other issues are blocked by partisan stalemate. This is one where we actually could move things forward,” said Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform. “We’re just going to have to defeat the forces of the status quo.”

Organizers acknowledged that threading bills through Congress remains a challenge. The Coalition hopes to make progress by the August congressional recess, when the presidential race will kick into a higher gear and lawmaking will slow even further.

“We’re in a long term marathon here, in terms of where we need to shift the country after two decades of polices that took us in the wrong direction,” Leonard told TIME in an interview. “There is a strong sense of urgency among these partnering organizations to see that we’re making an impact, both in the daily conversations that are happening around dinner tables but also among policy makers.”

But in Washington the forces of inertia increase in accordance with the number of actors. There are are seven organizations involved with the coalition, and it took months of meetings to lay out a general blueprint. There are 535 lawmakers in Congress. Even the most powerful interest groups know that translating public support into tangible reform remains an uphill battle.

“This is not necessarily a road map for a legislative proposal, but it does demonstrate the pathbreaking level of agreement and consensus around a set of issues,” Leonard says. “What we’re anxious about is, why isn’t there more happening?”

TIME global trade

Liberals Vow to Punish Democrats for Trade Vote

Demonstrators protest against the legislation to give President Barack Obama fast-track authority to advance trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), during a protest march on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 21, 2015.
SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images Demonstrators protest against the legislation to give President Barack Obama fast-track authority to advance trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), during a protest march on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 21, 2015.

Democrats who voted Thursday afternoon in favor of a controversial trade bill, known as “fast track,” will feel the wrath of some liberal groups.

The bill, known as the Trade Promotion Authority, passed 218-208, with 28 Democrats siding with President Obama and a strong, if unlikely, majority of Republicans. But liberal groups warned they would face a backlash from Democratic voters.

Democrats who allowed the passage of [the fast track] … should know that we will not lift a finger or raise a penny to protect you when you’re attacked in 2016, we will encourage our progressive allies to join us in leaving you to rot,” said Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America, “and we will actively search for opportunities to primary you with a real Democrat,”

“Those primaries could happen next year or they could happen in election cycles to come, but, make no mistake, we will make certain that your vote to fast track the destruction of American jobs will be remembered and will haunt you for years to come,” he added. Democracy for America oversees a grassroots membership of 10.1 million.

Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, a national environmental organization, said that he was “profoundly disappointed” with the Democratic leadership. “Sadly, we have come to expect Republicans to sell out the environment for the pursuit of corporate profits,” he said. “But we expect more regard for environmental protection and respect for working families from President Obama and the Democrats who supported this bill.”

The Trade Promotion Authority gives Obama the legal power to negotiate, and then pass to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote, all future free trade deals. That includes the controversial and imminent Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would knit together 12 Pacific Rim nations and 40% of the world’s GDP. Liberals, labor activists and environmentalists have furiously lobbied Democratic politicians in recent months to vote against the fast track on the grounds that it “greases the skids” for the TPP, which they argue will lead to job losses in the U.S., and a degradation of workers’ rights and environmental protections abroad.

But many major liberal heavyweights, including the labor unions, have been unwilling to make Democratic votes on the fast track bill a litmus test. AFL-CIO, for example, said this week that its 2016 endorsements will “not hinge” on how candidates voted on trade.

Stephanie Taylor, the co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee, stopped short of making an ultimatum Thursday, asking instead that Democratic leaders lobby the Senate to vote no on the bill. “Voters need to see that Democratic Party leaders, including Hillary Clinton, are willing to strongly fight corporate interests that seek to hurt workers and everyday families,” she said Thursday. “All presidential candidates should urge the Senate to vote no on fast track.”

Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, has yet to weigh in on whether she supports either fast track or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In comments last weekend, she urged the White House to work with Congressional Democrats to strengthen support for American workers—a comment that broke from a strongly pro-trade position in the past.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised that the bill will pass the Senate.

TIME global trade

White House Argues Trade Deal Just Hit ‘Snafu’

President Barack Obama President Obama departs from a meeting with House Democrats on Capitol Hill June 12, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson—Getty Images President Barack Obama President Obama departs from a meeting with House Democrats on Capitol Hill June 12, 2015 in Washington, DC.

The White House cast an embarrassing setback on a trade deal as little more than a “procedural snafu” Friday afternoon.

After a last-minute revolt by House Democrats, a carefully planned set of votes to give President Obama the authority to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership and help any American workers harmed by it failed to play out as the White House had hoped.

That left the trade deal in an uncomfortable limbo. The measure to give Obama trade authority narrowly passed with the support of Republicans, but it cannot go to the White House since Democrats withheld their support on the separate measure.

“Another procedural snafu has emerged,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters after the votes Friday afternoon.

He argued that the votes showed a “bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives” that backs Obama on the trade effort, noting that 28 Democrats voted for the trade powers.

And he said that Obama would not stop aggressively courting Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to support the deal. The House will meet again on Monday and could make another attempt to approve both parts of the trade deal early next week.

“The President is determined, as was evident in visit to to Capitol Hill this morning, to build a bipartisan majority to make sure that we’re living up to our commitment as Democrats to fight for the middle class,” Earnest said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., agreed with the White House’s assessment, telling reporters on Friday afternoon that the House could vote again and salvage the deal.

“We’re not done with this yet,” he said.

In a statement Friday afternoon, President Obama framed the day’s votes in a positive way, thanking a “bipartisan group of Representatives” for coming together “on behalf of America’s workers, our businesses, and our economy.”

Obama also urged the Republican-led House to pass the measure that would provide aid to American workers that Democrats scuttled in an effort to derail the entire deal. Inaction on trade adjustment authority, Obama said, would be felt by “about 100,000 workers and their communities annually if those Members of Congress don’t reconsider.”

“I urge the House of Representatives to pass TAA as soon as possible, so I can sign them both, and give our workers and businesses even more wind at their backs to do what they do best: imagine, invent, build, and sell goods Made in America to the rest of the world,” Obama said.

TIME global trade

Obama Takes the Case for Trade Deal to Capitol Hill

President Barack Obama waves at the crowd during the 2015 Congressional Baseball Game at the National Parks Stadium, on June 11, 2015 in Washington D.C.
Pool—Getty Images President Barack Obama waves at the crowd during the 2015 Congressional Baseball Game at the National Parks Stadium, on June 11, 2015 in Washington D.C.

President Obama met with House Democrats behind closed doors on Capitol Hill Friday as part of a last-minute push for support on a major trade deal.

The House is scheduled to vote on a measure that would strengthen Obama’s authority to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the biggest free trade deal of all time and a major second-term priority for the Administration.

The bill has already passed the Senate, which means the House votes Friday are the final hurdle for Obama. Republicans in both chambers are generally supportive of the trade deal, setting up an unusual alliance with Obama in his second term.

Read More: Obama Moves Closer to Inking Pacific Trade Deal

But some House Democrats are threatening to vote against the bill, causing a last-minute headache for the White House and setting up a rare nail-biter of a vote in which neither side knows what will happen.

During Friday’s meeting, Obama told Democrats to “play it straight” on the pending trade votes. For nearly an hour, he argued that Democrats should stick to their guns on the fast-track bill and not let last-ditch opposition by some progressives derail it. Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, who was in the room, said there was a feeling that Obama had waited until the last minute to try to sway votes. “I wish there would have been much better outreach by them,” he said.

Afterward, Obama wouldn’t tell press waiting outside the meeting room whether or not Friday’s trade votes were set.

“I don’t think you ever nail anything down around here,” he said. “It’s always moving.”

As part of his intense lobbying effort, Obama made a surprise visit to the Congressional Baseball Game Thursday evening, ironically arriving as the game was at a tense 2-2 standoff.

As he walked across the grounds at Nationals Park, the Democratic side of the stadium chanted “four more years,” while the Republican side chanted “TPA! TPA!”—a reference to the Trade Promotion Authority the bill would give Obama.

With Aisha Bhoori and Maya Rhodan/Capitol Hill

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