The Senate voted 62-37 Friday to approve a controversial trade measure that President Barack Obama has made a priority.
In an unusual twist, most Republicans supported the Democrat president’s proposal. Only five, Susan Collins (MA), Mike Lee (UT), Rand Paul (KY), Jeff Sessions (AL) and Richard Shelby (AL), voted no.
Before the bill passed, lawmakers voted down several amendments, including one proposed by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) that aimed to prevent currency manipulation by trade partners. Obama had vowed to veto the bill if that amendment was included.
The legislation will now move to the House, where a close vote is expected. Many conservatives oppose the measure. But for his part, House Speaker John Boehner vows to do what he can to pass it. In a news release, he wrote:
With trade promotion authority, we’ll be able to hold President Obama accountable so America’s workers can get the best agreements. Without it, our workers will fall further behind as China writes the rules of the global economy. This is a no-brainer.
The House will take up this measure, and Republicans will do our part, but ultimately success will require Democrats putting politics aside and doing what’s best for the country. Let’s seize this opportunity to open new doors for the things Americans make and the people who make them.
If it passes both Houses, TPA would give President Obama, and the next president, fast-track trade authority for the next six years.
This means that Congress would only get an up-or-down vote on trade negotiations made by the president and wouldn’t be permitted to make any amendments or modifications.
Congress will be in recess until June.