Senate advances fast-track authority towards final passage

Stop-TPPThe sage of baseball, Yogi Berra, got it exactly right: It ain’t over till it’s over.

Fast-track authorization was defeated in the House and appeared to be dead a couple of weeks ago.

But through cunning repackaging of the bills into separate votes last week, the House passed the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill on reconsideration, and sent it to the Senate.

On Tuesday the Senate sealed a fait accompli. The Hill reports, Senate advances fast-track trade bill for Obama:

The Senate on Tuesday voted to advance President Obama’s trade agenda, approving a measure to end debate on fast-track authority.

The 60-37 motion sets up a vote on final passage on Wednesday. If the Senate approves fast-track or trade promotion authority (TPA), it would then be sent to Obama’s desk to become law.

[Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) missed the vote. McConnell said Corker would have voted “yes” if he had been present, while Brown noted that Lee and Menendez would have voted “no.”]

[Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell has promised both bills, as well as a customs and enforcement bill favored by Democrats, will reach Obama’s desk by the end of the week.

“If we all keep working together and trusting each other, then by the end of the week the President will have TPA, TAA and AGOA and Preferences on his desk — with Customs in the process of heading his way too,” he said on the floor.

The House has already passed fast-track but it must still vote on the package including TAA, which faces opposition from conservatives.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reiterated on Tuesday his pledge to vote again on TAA as soon as it clears the upper chamber.

“The House will consider TAA once it passes the Senate as part of a new trade preferences bill. And we are ready to go to conference on the customs bill. Our goal is to get TPA and TAA to the president’s desk this week and deliver this win for the American people,” he said in a statement.

This is a  fait accompli. The only thing that could possibly derail it is Tea-Publicans voting against the Trade Adjustment Authority (TAA) bill in enough numbers to defeat it in the House. President Obama has said that he wants both bills. Whether he would sign TPA without the TAA bill is an open question.

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