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May 24, 2015

Posts by Steven Dennis

106 Posts

May 22, 2015

Senate Passes Trade Promotion Authority (Updated)

Portman's currency amendment, which has drawn a veto threat, failed.(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

Rob Portman’s currency amendment, which drew a veto threat, failed. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

Updated 10:20 p.m. | The Senate passed President Barack Obama’s Trade Promotion Authority package Friday, sending the precursor to major trade deals with Asia and Europe to the House.

The package survived a near-death experience Thursday, with the Senate voting narrowly to cut off a filibuster in an extended vote, and again Friday, when the Senate narrowly rejected a bipartisan currency enforcement amendment that had drawn a veto threat.

Obama cheered the passage in a statement.

The legislation “includes strong standards that will advance workers’ rights, protect the environment, promote a free and open Internet, and it supports new robust measures to address unfair currency practices,” Obama said.

“I want to thank Senators of both parties for sticking up for American workers by supporting smart trade and strong enforcement, and I encourage the House of Representatives to follow suit by passing TPA and TAA as soon as possible.”

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, called the bill a “no-brainer” and said he would try and pass it in the House.

“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,” Boehner said. “Let’s seize this opportunity to open new doors for the things Americans make and the people who make them.”

A deal to vote in June on extending the charter of the Export-Import Bank helped pave the way for passage of the measure, as well as a months-long, intensive effort by the president on what has been his top economic priority and one of the last big legacy items of his presidency and one that exposed a deep rift within his party.

Final passage ultimately came with less drama on a 62-37 vote.

In theory, the trade bill should have sailed through. Trade Promotion Authority, which allows presidents the ability to get up-or-down votes in Congress on trade deals without amendments, had the support of the Republican majority, the Democratic president of the United States and ultimately 14 pro-trade Democrats.

An extension to a program called Trade Adjustment Assistance that provides income support and training to workers displaced by international trade was added to the trade package as a sweetener for Democrats, but that was not enough for most of them. Led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, among others, most Democrats argued the trade deals would hurt American workers.

“This agreement, like bad trade deals before it, would force American workers to compete with desperate workers around the world – including workers in Vietnam where the minimum wage is 56-cents an hour,” said Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., who is running for president and had called out Hillary Rodham Clinton for keeping her distance from the issue.

The 14 Democrats who backed the president included Michael Bennet of Colorado, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, Chris Coons of Delaware, Dianne Feinstein of California, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Warner of Virginia and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Cardin had voted to filibuster the package earlier after being upset he did not get his amendments but had been a supporter of the package in committee.

Five Republicans voted no: Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Richard C. Shelby of Alabama.

One Republican senator did not vote: Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming.

Related:

Could Conservatives Push TPA Over the Finish Line?

Senator Obama vs. President Obama on Trade

Carper’s High-Test Week, on Two Very Different Tracks

Pritzker Touts Bipartisan Trade Push, Wants Deal ‘Quickly’

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

By Steven Dennis Posted at 9:29 p.m.
Trade

May 21, 2015

McConnell Says Senate Could Finish Friday ‘With Cooperation’ (Video)

The Kentucky senators are at odds on the NSA surveillance issue. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell might want to have a chat about the schedule. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The senior senator from Kentucky might need to have a little chat with the junior senator from Kentucky.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Thursday the Senate could finish its work on trade, Patriot Act surveillance authority and a highway patch by close of business Friday. That would let lawmakers make it to their home states well in advance of the Memorial Day parades.

But that would require “cooperation” that at this point is nowhere to be found, principally because of Sen. Rand Paul’s threat of maximum obstruction of any extension of the NSA’s surveillance powers. Full story

May 18, 2015

McConnell Threatens Memorial Day Recess

McConnell is threatening senators with weekend work. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell is threatening senators with weekend work. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s time to start threatening recess.

Like clockwork Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned senators he intends to force them to stick around until they are finished with their work.

“The Senate will finish its work on trade this week, and we will remain in session as long as it takes to do so,” said the Kentucky Republican.

“I would advise against making any sort of travel arrangements until the path forward becomes clear.” Full story

May 15, 2015

Reid: O’Malley Who? Leader Dismisses All but Clinton

For Reid, it's all about Hillary Cinton. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For Reid, it’s all about Clinton. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Harry Reid, in classic Harry Reid style, utterly dismissed the presidential aspirations of his Senate colleague Bernard E. Sanders, former Sen. Jim Webb and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in one biting sentence in an interview airing Friday.

For the Senate minority leader, the independent from Vermont and the Democrats from Virginia and Maryland governor, respectively, don’t even merit a mention.

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 10:49 a.m.
2016

May 14, 2015

Reid Rips Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush Over Yucca Mountain

Reid insists Yucca nuclear waste storage project will stay dead after he's gone. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reid insists the Yucca nuclear waste storage project will stay dead after he’s gone. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Harry Reid is using Yucca Mountain as a club against Republican presidential candidates hoping to win his home state in 2016.

In an email blast late Thursday, the Nevada Democrat ripped Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in particular on the mothballed nuclear waste storage project he has spent decades blocking. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 4:45 p.m.
Harry Reid

Senate Votes to Advance Fast-Track Trade Bill (Updated)

trade

Schumer, right, played a key role in the trade debate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:08 p.m. | President Barack Obama’s fast-track trade bill is officially back on track in the Senate, after easily topping the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster and open debate.

The trade bill will face amendment votes next week and possibly continue beyond the Memorial Day recess. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:35 p.m.
Trade

Senate Passes Currency Trade Bill; Boehner Calls It ‘Laughable’ (Updated)

Boehner dismissed a Senate push to enact new currency enforcement trade measures. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner dismissed a Senate push to enact new currency enforcement trade measures. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:49 p.m. | The Senate overwhelmingly passed the currency enforcement and customs trade bill Thursday, but it appears headed for oblivion in the House.

The currency provisions proposed by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., nearly sank President Barack Obama’s trade agenda earlier this week, and now that it remains separate from Obama’s push for Trade Promotion Authority, also known as fast track, it may remain little more than a legislative sideshow.

“To think that Congress can legislate what currency evaluations are between counties is almost laughable,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Thursday morning. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 1:10 p.m.
Trade

May 13, 2015

Senate Reaches Deal on Trade (Updated)

McConnell and Reid announced a deal to move forward on trade bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell and Reid announced a deal to move forward on trade bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:17 p.m. | Senate leaders agreed to a deal to get President Barack Obama’s fast-track trade bill back on track Wednesday, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offering separate votes first on two bills demanded by Democrats.

That includes the key customs bill with currency enforcement provisions opposed by the White House, as well as a trade preference bill aimed at helping developing countries. Both will face a 60-vote threshold, with votes planned for Thursday.

Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who is a “hell no” on fast track, nonetheless praised McConnell’s offer as “fair,” although he noted Democrats would still want to offer amendments on the underlying fast-track bill.

The deal also rescues President Barack Obama’s trade agenda, just one day after all but one member of his own party blocked debate on it.

Optimism for a revival of the bill had been increasing overnight, after Obama summoned 10 pro-trade Democrats to a meeting and Democrats made clear they would accept separate votes on the other bills instead of demanding all four bills in a single package. (McConnell had been offering up votes on amendments.)

The deal means opponents of the trade deals are likely headed for a big loss in the Senate. That includes many of the big unions that traditionally back Democrats.

The lobbying fight could now shift to the House, where the prospects remain cloudy.

The hard-fought passage of the currency enforcement measure out of the Senate, meanwhile, doesn’t mean it’s going anywhere. It could end up as veto-bait or simply end up in the circular file of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

Pro-trade Senate Democrats, however, will be able to tell their constituents that they voted for both tough new enforcement measures and the fast-track bill.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:50 p.m.
Trade

May 12, 2015

Democrats Filibuster Obama’s Fast-Track Trade Bill (Updated) (Video)

Wyden, left, earlier shepherded fast-track through committee, but balked at advancing it on the floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Wyden, left, earlier shepherded fast-track through committee, but balked at advancing it on the floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:49 p.m. | The Senate blocked President Barack Obama’s top trade priority Tuesday, with the president’s own party abandoning him en masse. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:56 p.m.
Uncategorized

April 29, 2015

Harry Reid Likens GOP Budget to Nepal Earthquakes (Video)

Harry Reid isn’t exactly mellowing in his final two years as minority leader before he heads off into the sunset.

Full story

April 23, 2015

Loretta Lynch Confirmed by Senate (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:29 p.m. | Get ready to start calling her “Attorney General Loretta Lynch.” The Senate voted to confirm the first African-American woman attorney general Thursday afternoon, but the scars from the long, tortured confirmation process will linger far longer. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 12:12 p.m.
Nominations

April 21, 2015

Leahy Slams McConnell Push to Extend NSA Surveillance Authority

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy vowed to block efforts by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to extend authorization to collect phone and other records of Americans in bulk through 2020. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 10:49 p.m.
Intelligence

McConnell Sets Thursday Vote on Loretta Lynch

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell filed cloture Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a Thursday cloture vote on Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general after breaking a logjam over amendments to the human trafficking bill.

The Kentucky Republican’s filing of cloture on Tuesday ends Lynch’s months-long limbo, with the votes for her confirmation seemingly assured but her position held up as a bargaining chip as the parties wrangled over abortion provisions in the trafficking bill. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 10:26 p.m.
Uncategorized

Harry Reid a ‘Hell No’ on Obama’s Fast Track Push (Video)

(Tom WIlliams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom WIlliams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday his advice to Sen. Ron Wyden is to “slow down” so-called “fast-track” trade legislation. Full story

By Steven Dennis and Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:22 p.m.
Trade

April 16, 2015

Schumer: McConnell Needs to Learn to ‘Play Ball’

 (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs to learn to “play ball” with Democrats instead of trying to roll them, Sen. Charles E. Schumer said Thursday in a hallway interview. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 12:32 p.m.
Uncategorized
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