The Trade Promotion Authority bill, which would allow Barack Obama to finalize trade deals that he has been negotiating cleared a major hurdle in the Senate on Thursday, avoiding a filibuster. After only about thirty minutes worth of compromising the Senate voted 62-38 in favor of advancing the TPA, which provides Obama with his biggest second-term domestic priority.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who led the debate on the floor of the Senate to pass the bill, said, “Our nation’s economic health and prestige are on the line today.”
The Washington Post reports:
“It’s an agenda that is good for U.S. businesses, but most importantly, it is good for American workers,” Obama said.
The AFL-CIO denounced the vote as “shameful” in a graphic that featured the names and photos of each of the 13 Democratic senators who voted for the bill.
Celeste Drake, trade policy specialists at the nation’s largest collection of labor unions, called the vote “disappointing,” citing the “devastating costs of bad trade deals over the years,” and she predicted the legislation would have far less support in the House.
The TPA bill is now more likely to pass the Senate, possibly over the weekend, 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, where Democratic opposition to Obama’s trade agenda is deeper.
Thirteen Democrats joined with all but five Republicans to advance the legislation. The five senators that stood against the bill are Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R_UT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Richard Shelby (R-AL).
The Washington Times adds:
…the Senate needs deal with a number of amendments, and lawmakers were negotiating what proposals would earn votes in the hours before a final tally on the TPA bill.
Sen. John Cornyn, Republicans’ deputy leader, said an amendment related to punishing other countries deemed guilty of manipulating their currency for trade advantages will get a vote.
Many of the holdouts in Thursday’s vote were senators who want to see the Export-Import Bank, which is slated to expire soon, continued. Emerging from the floor Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat who had placed great weight on the bank, said they had won agreement that there will be a vote on the bank next month.
There is no doubt that an Export-Import Bank is a really, really bad idea. Recently, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint wrote that the Export-Import Bank offers “favoritism for a few politically connected cronies.”
“There are two types of businesses: successful ones that don’t need financial assistance from the government, and unsuccessful ones that don’t deserve it,” DeMint wrote. “Those lucky enough to have foreign deals backed by the Export-Import Bank fall almost entirely in the first group. They don’t need the help, but they’ll take all the favors they can get.”
“Only 2 percent of American exports get this kind of subsidy from the government, and over time, those special taxpayer-funded favors can mean hundreds of millions in additional profit to those lucky few corporations,” he added. “As for the others, they’re left to compete at a disadvantage. That’s not opportunity for all; it’s favoritism for a few politically connected cronies.”
According to many reports, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will not be good for American sovereignty, economy or employment. Additionally, the treaty will encourage unlimited migration into the United States from Mexico and include gun and ammunition bans.
Speaker John Boehner has said that he has not made any commitments for votes in the House should the bill be passed, but we all know that he will go along with it just like he has much of Obama’s agenda because he is a compromised man.
The thing that I’m anxious to see is whether or not the Senate will actually follow the Constitution and shoot it down when Obama finalizes it. From what we’ve seen out of the Senate, I’m not going to hold my breath.