Senate Hands a Victory to Obama on Trade Pact
The Senate narrowly voted Tuesday to end debate on legislation granting President Obama enhanced negotiating powers to complete a major Pacific trade accord, virtually assuring final passage Wednesday of Mr. Obama’s top legislative priority in his final years in office.
The procedural vote, 60 to 37, reached the minimum threshold needed, but final passage will require only 51 votes. It was the second time the Senate blocked a filibuster of so-called trade promotion authority, but this time the bill was shorn of a separate measure to offer enhanced retraining and education assistance to workers displaced by international trade accords. That measure faces a crucial procedural vote on Wednesday as well.
Passage of a stand-alone trade promotion bill will put pressure on House Democrats, who this month brought down the worker aid provision when it was linked to the fast-track legislation, a strategic move they hoped would torpedo the entire trade package.
The tortured path of trade promotion authority over the last six months created the bizarre spectacle of Mr. Obama linking arms with Republican leaders who otherwise have worked to thwart him, both on domestic and foreign policies.