The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation to facilitate the consideration of trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) continues to be considered by the U.S. Senate. The TPA bill, while moving toward passage, continues to face procedural impediments.
On Thursday, May 21, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won a very narrow cloture vote (62-38) to end debate on Senator Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) substitute bill that bundles the TPA bill with Trade Adjustment Assistance renewal. Approval of the cloture motion was only made possible in the last minutes of the vote, when Majority Leader. McConnell reached agreement with Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), to have a vote to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank in June. At least eight pending amendments will be considered, and there are on-going discussions between the leadership to include additional amendments. Nonetheless, today's vote makes final passage in the Senate all but certain. Amendments under consideration include a mechanism to punish other countries for currency manipulation, a prohibition on fast track treatment for agreements that include investor-state disputes, and an amendment related to human trafficking.
Majority Leader McConnell hopes to have a final vote on the TPA legislation prior to the Senate's adjournment before the Memorial Day Recess. He has threatened to keep the Senate in session over the weekend in order to bring the bill to a final vote in the Senate. Assuming the bill passes, it is unclear what its chances are in the House. A coalition of Democrats, who oppose free trade agreements, and Republicans, who are opposed to giving the President greater authority, could make House passage difficult.