Senate Democrats block Obama trade deal

Video: Why TPP and TPA are important

Senate Democrats have blocked Trade Promotion Authority for President Obama on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and voted against bringing the measure to debate.

Opposition to the measure, which would allow for quick approval of the 12-country free-trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has been building among progressive Democrats for some time. But there was still hope at the White House that aggressive lobbying from Obama would be enough to cobble together votes needed to at least allow the Senate to debate the bill.

This is a big blow to Obama’s economic agenda, but Democrats wanted more provisions placed in the bill that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wouldn’t budge on.

Democrats have demanded additional worker protections before they would consider voting to approve fast-track trade powers for the president. Shortly ahead of the vote, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rejected the demands, insisting he would not make any guarantees beyond a vote on the fast-track bill.

The ensuing Democratic filibuster sank the legislation on the Senate floor, 52-45, with 60 needed to pass. Trade proponents in both parties vowed to try to put the pieces back together, but with little more than a week before a Memorial Day recess and several expiring laws still to be addressed, the immediate future of Obama’s trade agenda is uncertain.

Republicans and White House officials have argued that enacting fast-track Trade Promotion Authority is critical for Obama’s ability to strike a massive trade deal with Pacific Rim countries.

“What we just saw here is pretty shocking,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately following the vote.

 

[CNN] [Politico]