The Senate last week began to debate legislation to reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority after the Senate invoked cloture by a vote of 65-33. Earlier in the week in a setback to President Barack Obama, the Senate Republican leadership, and the business and agriculture communities, the Senate failed to invoke cloture (60 votes required) by a vote of 52-45.
Without cloture, the Senate would not be able to consider TPA. A number of Democrats who support TPA asked that other trade bills also be considered including Trade Adjustment Assistance, trade preference and customs enforcement. When an agreement was not able to be reached, those Democrats voted against the first motion to proceed to TPA. An agreement was then reached for the Senate to consider other trade bills which then brought enough Democrats to vote for cloture on the second vote.
As many observed, this was the Senate being the Senate. The Senate leadership would like to complete action on the bill by the end of this week but there will be numerous amendments offered. The House of Representatives plans to consider the bill next month. A number of countries (Japan, Canada, Vietnam, etc.) will not put their best offers on the table during the TransPacific Partnership trade negotiations unless they know the president has TPA.
The American Farm Bureau Federation thanked the Senate for proceeding to consideration of TPA. AFBF said, “This legislation is critical to making progress on pending negotiations and promises to expand opportunities for U.S. agricultural exports.”