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May 25, 2015
After a week of ups and downs, delays, procedural votes, and numerous amendments, the Senate passed trade promotion authority (TPA) by a vote of 62-37. Fourteen Democrats joined Republicans in giving President Barack Obama a key victory for his trade agenda and an administration priority. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Majority Leader of the Senate, made TPA a priority for the Senate and had pledged it would be completed by Memorial Day. President Obama said, "Today’s bipartisan Senate vote is an important step toward ensuring the United States can negotiate and enforce strong, high-standards trade agreements."
This was a crucial vote to ensure that the United States can get the best deal possible during the current TransPacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Japan and other countries are not expected to present their best offers during the negotiations unless the President has TPA. A major issue during Senate consideration of TPA was currency manipulation. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rob Portman's (R-OH) amendment to address this issue was defeated by a very close vote of 48-51. The Secretary of the Treasury had threatened the administration would veto the bill if the amendment passed. The House of Representatives plans to vote on TPA the first week of June where it will face fierce opposition from pro-labor Democrats and very conservative Republicans.
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