The Senate moved today to advance trade promotion authority legislation after a deal between Republicans and Democrats was struck. The bill passed 65 to 33. At least 60 votes were needed for debate to proceed.
The Senate also approved a customs enforcement bill for debate in a 78 to 22 vote, and an African trade bill was also approved in a 91 to 1 vote. Both pieces of legislation were a part of the deal struck Wednesday to expedite the trade promotion authority (also called the fast track for trade) and trade adjustment assistance package. The customs bill contains the controversial currency manipulation legislation aimed at curbing China’s practice of changing its currency price to gain an export advantage.
Earlier We Reported:
A day after Senate Democrats dealt a blow to President Obama’s trade agenda by blocking debate on the Trade Promotion Authority, reports from Capitol Hill are that the Senate has reached an agreement.
According to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, on Thursday morning the chamber will vote to begin debate on a customs enforcement and developing-nation trade preference bill. The combined Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance package will be voted on afterward.
On Tuesday, Senate Democrats blocked the vote to begin debate for the promotion authority bill until the other trade legislation was brought up for debate. There are other challenges for the legislation, however — in particular, a controversial China currency-manipulation provision in the customs bill sponsored by New York Senator Chuck Schumer. The manipulation legislation is a sticking point for the White House, which has said it doesn’t support it, and could result in trouble wrangling Democratic support on the Trade Promotion Authority.
To learn more about the trade debate, see our earlier coverage here.