The Senate came one step closer Tuesday to granting President Obama fast-track trade authority, enabling him to present trade agreements to the legislative body for straight up-or-down votes.
Seen just now on C-SPAN2: Senate advances Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) pic.twitter.com/C3jXrSDAKH
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 23, 2015
As The Hill reported, the upper chamber voted 60 to 37 to end debate on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). A final vote to pass the measure is likely to take place Wednesday, then sent to the White House for Obama’s signature.
The Senate’s vote came after the House narrowly passed TPA Thursday. The lower chamber approved TPA earlier this month, but a procedural rule stipulated that TPA could not go to the White House unless the renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) passed. Because TAA’s renewal was rejected, it forced GOP leadership to bring TPA to the floor a second time.
The Hill noted that after the Senate conducts its final vote on fast-track authority, it will hold a vote on a new package that includes TAA and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). “If we all keep working together and trusting each other, then by the end of the week the President will have TPA, TAA and AGOA and Preferences on his desk — with Customs in the process of heading his way too,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday.
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With TPA’s all-but-inevitable passage, this will enable Obama to send the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement involving 12 Asian and Central American nations, to Congress.
One of the key “no” votes in the most recent Senate vote was Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Cruz co-authored a pro-TPA piece in The Wall Street Journal in April with House Ways and Means chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Trade-promotion authority will hold the administration accountable both to Congress and to the American people. Under TPA, any member of Congress will be able to read the negotiating text. Any member will be able to get a briefing from the U.S. trade representative’s office on the status of the negotiations—at any time.
Any member will get to be a part of negotiating rounds. And most important, TPA will require the administration to post the full text of the agreement at least 60 days before completing the deal, so the American people can read it themselves.
The Lone Star State’s junior senator has now reversed course, contending in a Breitbart piece just ahead of the vote Tuesday that “TPA in this Congress has become enmeshed in corrupt Washington backroom deal-making, along with serious concerns that it would open up the potential for sweeping changes in our laws that trade agreements typically do not include.”
Cruz also wrote that he could not vote for TPA unless he received assurances from GOP leadership that the Export-Import Bank, an independent agency that is seen by some as crony capitalism, would not be renewed.
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