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Senate Votes to Proceed to Revived Fast-Track Obama Trade Bill

After filibustering a top Obama trade item Tuesday, a number of Democrats relented Thursday afternoon as the Senate voted to bring Trade Promote Authority to the floor.

Exceeding the 60 vote threshold, the motion passed to proceed to the trade deal.

On Tuesday, nearly the entire Senate Democratic caucus voted to block the Obama-backed bill, demanding other measures be included in the trade package.

Wednesday, Senate leaders announced a path forward wherein two of the measures Democrats wanted — an Africa trade preferences bill and a customs bill with anti-currency manipulation language — would receive votes as stand-alone bills before the TPA cloture vote.

Both the Africa trade bill and customs bills passed early Thursday afternoon on votes of 97-1 and 78-20 respectively. Both bills needed 60 votes for passage.

The fast-track legislation has made unusual allies of Senate GOP leadership and President Obama, both pushing to move the trade bill forward.

Early in the day Thursday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thanked Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) for hammering out the deal as well as Obama himself.

“I’d like to thank the President too. No, you’re not hearing things. President Obama has done his country a service by taking on his base and pushing back on some of the more ridiculous rhetoric we’ve heard. He was right to remind everyone that ‘you don’t make change through slogans’ or ‘ignoring realities.’ He should be recognized for it,” McConnell said.

“The American people sent divided government to Washington. But it doesn’t mean they don’t want us to work together on issues where we can agree. On this issue, we do agree,” he added.

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