WASHINGTON - Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the US House of Representatives, spent much of this year saying she was trying to find "a path to yes" on the Pacific Rim trade deal sought by President Barack Obama, her close ally.
But on Friday, with legislation central to Obama's pact coming before the House, Pelosi revealed she would vote "no," joining other Democrats in handing the president a stunning defeat and leaving his trade agenda in limbo.
"When Leader Pelosi announced that she was voting against TAA, for undecided members it sealed the deal," said Representative Steve Israel, a senior House Democrat.
The dramatic vote on the Trade Adjustment Assistance worker aid bill left Obama's signature foreign policy initiative in doubt and deepened a rift between him and his party. This made Democrats look fractured and disorganized, a condition more typical in recent years of Republicans.