October 24, 2021

Democrats filibuster Obama’s trade bill

obama on tppSenate Democrats filibustered Tuesday to block the first major free-trade vote in years, dealing a blow to President Obama and GOP leaders who were pushing a deal in a rare show of bipartisanship, but who once again find themselves struggling with the political fringe.

Unlike the last few years’ worth of conservative objections, this time it was liberals who balked and pulled moderate Democrats with them, putting the brakes on the bipartisan push and imperiling the rest of the spring congressional agenda.

The White House said the filibuster was only a “procedural snafu” and urged GOP leaders in Congress to work it out differences with the moderate Democrats, who are insisting that any free trade legislation be coupled with a bill that would provide training and financial assistance to American workers deemed to have lost jobs due to free trade.

“We live in an era of divided government,” Mr. Earnest said. “For anything to become law, party-line votes are not going to cut it. They’re going to have to work through this challenge, and we’ll remain engaged with them as they do.”

Trade supporters fell seven votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome the filibuster, with all but one Democrat voting for the filibuster to prevent even the beginning of a debate on Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, which is also known as fast-track trade powers.

Under TPA the president is able to negotiate trade deals and submit them for an up-or-down vote in Congress, without amendment. Without TPA, any deal Mr. Obama struck would be open to amendment in Congress, making it almost impossible for potential trade partner countries to negotiate with the U.S.

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