Tags: Barack Obama | Unions | senate | trade | fast track | pacific | tpa

Crucial Senate Vote Awaited on Obama Trade Deal

By    |   Tuesday, 23 June 2015 08:18 AM

A key vote in the Senate is expected Tuesday on President Barack Obama’s sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Sixty votes are needed for pro-trade supporters to "clear a filibuster by liberals," according to Politico, which reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner have come up with a "complex procedural scheme to sidestep Democratic opposition in the House."

A yes vote would set the stage for the president to negotiate his sweeping trade deal — it includes the United States and 11 nations along the Pacific Rim — without congressional interference, according to The Hill.

Initially a package bundled both fast-track trade authority for the president and Trade Adjustment Assistance — an aid program for workers who lose their jobs to free trade — but the two have since been separated.

Tuesday’s vote is only for the first part, known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), while the vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) will come after.

The legislation has been described by The New York Times as "the most ambitious trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990s."

The Trans-Pacific Partnership "would set new terms for trade and business investment among the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations — a far-flung group with an annual gross domestic product of nearly $28 trillion that represents roughly 40 percent of global G.D.P. and one-third of world trade," according to the Times.

After strident opposition from members of his own party, as well as labor groups, President Obama has "spared no effort" lobbying for the bill, according to The Hill, which quoted Treasury Secretary Jack Lew as saying that the president has" reached out to more members than I can count, more senators than I can count, and everyone in the Cabinet."

Obama intends to continue the full-court press until the vote, according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

According to The Hill, if the measure gets 60 votes to end the debate in the Senate on Tuesday, a final roll call measure could take place later Tuesday or on Wednesday.
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia acknowledged to Politico that the measure is "probably going to get over the hump."

Pro-trade Democrats, according to the website, "have mostly dodged the issue publicly, seeking to avoid the tension between the business and liberal wings of the Democratic coalition."

Dozens of groups opposing the trade agreement penned a letter to senators calling the legislation "destructive policy."

A group of Democrats strongly against the deal, led by Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, have been strategizing in private meetings about their options, according to Politico.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who is seeking the White House in 2016, is also encouraging his colleagues to oppose the measure, according to Politico.

"I hope my colleagues vote against the legislation," he said. "I think the evidence is quite overwhelming that our past trade agreements have been a disaster for the American worker."

Supporters, mainly Republicans, need at least 11 Senate Democrats to vote for the bill since five Republicans opposed it last month.

McConnell has said he is confident the trade deal will be on the president’s desk by the end of the week.

"Now I know how important it is, particularly for my friends on the other side of the aisle, to get both TPA [trade promotion authority] and TAA done," McConnell said on the floor, according to The Hill.

"It’s why I set in motion a process last week — filing cloture on the vehicles for both TPA and TAA so that we get one done followed immediately by the other — that will put both pieces of legislation on the president’s desk before the July 4 [recess]."

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A key vote in the Senate is expected Tuesday that would set the stage for President Barack Obama to negotiate his sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with 11 other Pacific Rim nations.
senate, trade, fast track, pacific, tpa
Tuesday, 23 June 2015 08:18 AM
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