Thursday, May 21, 2015

This Time, Senate Votes to Advance Trade Pact

The Senate on Thursday voted by a narrow margin to break a filibuster on legislation to empower President Obama to complete a major, 12-nation Pacific trade accord, most likely clearing a path for approval of a crucial piece of Mr. Obama’s ambitious trade agenda.

The vote to end debate on a carefully brokered deal to give the president trade promotion authority barely cleared the 60-vote threshold. The Senate will now vote on a series of amendments – some highly controversial – before a final vote on the trade legislation, which will probably come on Friday.

Those amendments include a bipartisan push to demand that any trade deal address the intentional manipulation of currency rates, as well as a proposal by Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, to strip from the Pacific trade deal a chapter granting corporations the right to challenge regulations in member nations that harm the value of their investments.

Regardless of that gantlet, Thursday’s vote helped the president’s trade push clear a major hurdle. It also vindicated the strategy of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who strictly limited the number of amendments to the trade bill and jammed it into the last week before the Senate’s Memorial Day recess.


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