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Legislative Updates

Senate passes Trade Promotion Authority bill

Prior to adjourning for the Memorial Day recess, the Senate passed “Fast Track” trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation, bringing it one step closer to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Following two weeks of debate on the measure, the Senate voted 62-37 in favor of Fast Track, legislation that would allow the White House to submit trade agreements to Congress for straight up-or-down votes without any amendments. (The Senate also included a renewal of the five-decades-old Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA) to help retrain workers who lose their jobs because of trade deals.)

The Fast Track measure is expected to be considered by the House when it returns from recess on June 1. The measure also is expected to face and an even more contentious battle.

To reach the necessary 218 votes for passage, Republicans (who hold the majority in the House) will need Democrats to offset any loss of votes from Republicans who may be poised to oppose the bill. At least 40 Republicans in the House have raised concerns over trade promotion authority—concerns over its process, its substance, or the belief that the president is overstepping his authority.

With that number of possible defections fluctuating, and with just 18 House Democrats signaling their support for the measure, it appears that eventual House consideration of the bill is shaping up to be a major battle.

Although the AFL-CIO expected TPA to advance in the Senate, the federation was pleased that so many Senators mounted such strong opposition.  This has energized our anti-TPA coalition as the debate on Capitol Hill moves onto more favorable ground in the House of Representatives.

For more information regarding NALC’s opposition to Fast Track, click here. And please stand by for a possible call to action as things unfold in the coming weeks.

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