There Are Still Enough Dem Votes To Pass Fast Track
May 13, 2015

It could still happen, which is why you still need to contact your senators today. If they didn't vote for TPA, thank them. If they did, tell them you'd like them to change their minds on the next vote. Via NBC News:

Did Senate Democrats strengthen their hand on trade? Or did they just prolong a nasty Dem-vs.-Dem storyline? It's important not to over-read yesterday'sDemocratic filibuster against giving their own president trade-promotion authority (TPA) as Elizabeth Warren vs. Obama or progressives vs. Obama. After all, there are about 10 pro-trade Democratic senators who are willing to give him this authority, which gives you 60-plus votes to clear any filibuster.

But these Democrats withheld their support as a way to get more leverage over Republicans -- to get assurances that three other trade-related bills will pass the Senate in addition to TPA. The problem with this Dem play is that it only prolongs this trade debate that exposes a clear Dem-vs.-Dem storyline.

Exhibit A: You had Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) say that Obama was being "disrespectful" to Elizabeth Warren for referring to her by her first name. (Buzzfeed has found at least three examples of Obama referring to Brown as "Sherrod.") On "Morning Joe," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest replied, "Sen. Brown is a stand-up guy, and I'm confident after he's had a chance to look at the comments he made yesterday, that he'll find a way to apologize." We've spent the last four years covering the GOP-vs.-GOP ideological war. But yesterday was maybe the clearest example of Dem-vs-Dem violence in the Obama Era. And it's probably only going to get worse.

It's still possible that TPA passes the Senate. Per NBC's Frank Thorp, "Senate Democratic leadership has reached out to Republicans in an effort to break the impasse on the fast-track Trade Promotion Authority bill, which resulted in Democrats blocking a key procedural motion related to the bill on Tuesday. According to a Senate aide, Sens Harry Reid (D-NV) and Chuck Schumer (R-NY) reached out to Republicans this afternoon offering to give them enough votes to move forward on the trade bill if they were given a standalone vote on a key currency manipulation provision favored by Democrats, but opposed by many Republicans, as well as the White House." Politico adds, While [Reid's] initial overture likely won't settle the issue, and top Republicans said they were skeptical of Reid's proposal, Democrats' willingness to return to the bargaining table suggests the trade measure may not be dead. And pro-trade Democrats huddled with the White House on Tuesday evening, as the administration looked for a way forward.

And here's Greg Sargent on how Mitch McConnell just proved Elizabeth Warren right -- and gave the Warren Dems a new tool to use in their fight:

Yesterday, Senate Democrats blocked the bill that would have given President Obama “fast track” authority to negotiate trade deals, subject only to a Congressional up-or-down vote later. Though this battle is far from over, this raises the possibility that Democratic opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership could ultimately succeed in derailing it by scuttling the Fast Track process itself.

Now opponents of Fast Track may have inadvertently been given some new ammunition by an unlikely source: Staunch TPP-advocate Mitch McConnell.In an interview with John Harwood, McConnell said that Republicans should support Fast Track authority, explicitly because — and here’s the rub — it will empower the next GOP president to negotiate trade deals more easily, despite Democratic opposition to them in Congress:

“If we had a Republican president right now, not a single Democrat would vote for Trade Promotion Authority. So what I’ve said to my members, if we want the next Republican president, who we hope will be sworn in less than two years from now, to have a chance to do trade agreements with the rest of the world, this bill is about that president as well as this one.”

McConnell added, by way of illustration, that Fast Track is a “six year bill.” Expect Democratic opponents of Fast Track to grab on to this. It dovetails nicely with the argument they are making: That Fast Track could ultimately undermine achievements like the Dodd Frank financial reform bill.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and others worry that a GOP president taking over in 2017 could use Fast Track to undermine Wall Street regulations through a back-door route. As Warren puts it: “We are already deep into negotiations with the European Union on a trade agreement and big banks on both sides of the Atlantic are gearing up to use that agreement to water down financial regulations.” The basic idea is that Fast Track authority would allow such a trade deal to pass with a simple majority in the Senate, precluding a Dem filibuster.=

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