President Obama’s trade agenda barely cleared a key Senate hurdle as the Senate voted 60-37 to advance the Trade Promotion Authority bill to a final vote.
After Ted Cruz flip-flopped and changed his position to no, President Obama needed twelve votes to advance the bill. Liberals in the Senate largely voted against the bill, but in the end a deal that Senate Majority Leader McConnell cut to include worker protections in the package.
According to The Hill:
A turning point in his negotiations with pro-trade Democrats came when McConnell offered to add to the mix legislation that would help U.S. companies petition the Commerce Department and International Trade Commission to respond to infractions of trade rules.
The Leveling the Playing Field Act, sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a close ally of McConnell’s, is attached to the package of trade preferences and worker assistance.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that a final vote on TPA would happen tomorrow. Liberal opponents of the legislation will be forced to make one last dramatic stand if they have any hopes of defeating the bill.
While much of the country was preoccupied with the fallout from the horrible mass shooting in Charleston, the pro-trade forces in Congress were quietly gaining momentum. The final vote to move the bill forward was cast by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV).
Democrats who supported this bill have put themselves in the position of trusting Mitch McConnell to pass the Trade Adjustment Assistance worker protection package. If McConnell doesn’t deliver or goes back on his word, the Democrats who voted for TPA will have a lot of explaining to do.
Today’s vote is major step forward for the President’s trade agenda, and liberals are running out of time to stop the TPP trade agreement.