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Democrats Delay Trade Bill

The Senate failed Tuesday to move ahead with debate on Trade Promotion Authority, legislation that would give the president the power to submit a pending trade bill to Congress for an up or down vote.

The procedural vote to move ahead on amendments to TPA, also called fast-track legislation, failed by a vote of 52 in favor to 45. It fell short of the 60 votes needed to limit a filibuster. 

“What we just saw here is pretty shocking,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the vote.

Passage of TPA is considered essential to finish up tough negotiations with Japan and Canada in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

McConnell quoted President Barack Obama who said that the left in his own party “was making stuff up” about TPA and the TPP trade agreement.

Democrats wanted more protection for workers who might lose jobs from the trade agreement and voted against moving ahead with debate on the TPA. All but one of the Democrats voted against their president.

Most farm groups support both TPA and, potentially, the TPP. National Farmers Union is the largest ag group that opposes TPA.

Before the vote, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he expects the procedural vote on TPA to come up again in June.

McConnell promised Tuesday that “we will continue to engage with both sides.” 

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