President Obama’s trade agenda faces a key procedural vote in the Senate Tuesday as Democrats weigh whether to back legislation that would give the president the authority to submit free trade agreements to Congress for an up-or-down vote without amendments.
The vote, teed up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is the highest hurdle facing the standalone so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill. It requires 60 votes to pass.
The Senate adopted TPA last month with the help of 14 Democrats. However, that bill was bound up alongside a Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) plan. TAA is essential to some Democrats because it helps businesses and workers hit adversely by trade deals, either through production shifts overseas or competition from foreign imports. However, the House only approved the TPA plan by a narrow margin, while emphatically rejecting TAA.
If the TPA legislation gets 60 or more votes Tuesday, the Senate is on track to approve the rest of Obama’s trade framework later this week, requiring only a simple majority to do so. However, falling short the mark could imperil the entire trade framework.
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