It looks like the fast track authority deal for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement will move ahead in the Senate towards a final vote as the price of a deal involved holding a separate vote on the Export-Import Bank.
In a dramatic vote critical to the future of the president’s goal of securing new trade deals with Pacific Rim and European countries, the Senate on Thursday broke a bipartisan filibuster of legislation to give the president “fast-track” authority to negotiate new trade deals.
The 62-38 vote preserves the possibility that the Senate can finish the trade bill before the Memorial Day recess, which would be a major boon to Obama and Republican leaders in the House and Senate. It came after a round of horse-trading that assures the Export-Import Bank will receive a chance at a lifeline to live past June 30, when it is scheduled to expire.
“It was a nice victory. We’re going to continue and finish up the bill this week,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters.
McConnell was seen on the floor talking with senators in both parties who want to see Ex-Im extended, and soon after a half-dozen lawmakers announced their support for the trade measure, lifting it above the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold. Republican and Democratic senators had been pushing to attach Ex-Im to the trade bill. But McConnell resisted because he fears that combining the two would have imperiled the trade bill’s prospects in the House, where it already faces difficult odds.
Whether Orange Julius and the House play ball, who knows. There are probably enough votes to get 218, but then again, things have this nasty habit of breaking down when one of the factors involves “John Boehner rounding up enough votes” to get something to work that the Senate has already passed.
Regardless, looks like fast track authority on the TPP will continue to survive in Congress for a bit longer.