The 62-38 vote ended debate on the bill, moving it toward a final vote. The May 21 cloture vote signals that debate is over, amendments done, and a final vote is pending. The TPA bill is now more likely to pass the Senate, as early as Fri, May 22, or over the weekend, The procedural vote all but assures final Senate passage of TPA, for which only a simple majority is required. But supporters still must defeat a few amendments that administration officials say would draw a veto. The measure would then head for an uncertain fate in the House.
“We’re going to grind on and finish TPA, if those who say they’re for it end up voting for it,” McConnell said Wednesday evening in a brief interview.
On a vote of 62 to 38, the measure for Trade Promotion Authority received just enough Democratic support to keep it moving, following a last-ditch lobbying effort by Obama and his top advisers. The fate of the legislation hung in the balance for more than 30 minutes during the vote, as it remained shy of the 60 ayes needed to advance and as more than a dozen senators from both parties negotiated the last details of the legislation and side issues, such as the Export-Impport Bank authorization.
This week’s near-breakdown of support came as about 10 Democrats, who wavered over the legislation last week, issued a demand that congressional GOP leaders assure them that they would approve an extension of the federally backed bank that helps U.S. corporations sell their goods abroad. Many conservatives, particularly in the House, oppose renewing the charter of the Export-Import Bank because they consider it a form of corporate welfare that favors large, well-connected businesses, particularly Boeing.
Votes on major trade issues often do not break down on strictly partisan lines. For example, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions voted against advancing TPA, arguing that Congress should not surrender its right to amend trade deals, and that previous pacts have led to net job losses in America.
“As in the past, it appears this agreement will reduce jobs, and reduce wages, too. And reduce manufacturing. We cannot be a strong nation without a manufacturing sector,” said Sessions.
Two hundred amendments have been offered by 46 senators, but the ones ruled as germane to the legislation could include (1) stipulations that trade deals address currency manipulation, (2) an amendment to prevent investment protections trade agreements, and (3) an amendment to require Congressional approval before the president can start free trade agreement talks with a new nation.
The Senate will now enter a period of up to 30 hours of debate and vote on a series of amendments before a final vote on TPA expected on Friday.
Read more …
Senate votes to give Trade Promotion Authority for TPP, Washington Post, May 21, 2015
Trade bill clears Senate hurdle, CNN, May 21, 2015
Hard-fought trade bill advances in the Senate, VOA, May 21, 2015
Senate votes to advance TPA, ICIS, May 21, 2015