Obama’s Controversial Trade Deal Is Back From the Dead

The Senate just resurrected the TPA, paving the way for the largest trade deal in history.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discusses the Trade Promotion Authority bill at a news conference in May. Evan Vucci/AP

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Update (6/24/15): With just 13 Democrats on board, the Senate officially approved the Trade Promotion Authority legislation with a vote of 60-38. The legislation extends authority through the next six years, granting both President Obama and his successor the ability to negotiate trade agreements.

Things were looking grim for the Trans-Pacific Partnership—Obama’s controversial trade deal—after House Democrats turned on the president earlier this month and struck down a major provision in the “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), a bill that would enable the president to complete trade-deal negotiations and present trade accords to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no amendments. But, in a stunning turnaround, the Senate voted 60-37 today to end debate on the fast-track legislation, a clear indication that it will pass and clear the way for Obama’s trade deal to move forward.

Fast-track legislation is nothing new. This type of authority has been granted to every president since Gerald Ford. But what makes it controversial is that it paves the way for negotiations to continue on the secretive and sweeping trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which have been met with heavy criticism from both liberal advocacy groups and Republicans who are concerned with granting the executive more power.

House Democrats nearly derailed the fast-track legislation earlier this month when they helped to vote down a measure, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, that had been appended to the bill. By knocking down the TAA, a program widely supported by Democrats, House Dems gambled that their Senate counterparts would balk at passing the fast-track bill without the assistance program. But on Tuesday they lost that bet, when 13 Senate Democrats joined with their Republican colleagues to end debate on the TAA-less fast-track bill, which is expected to come to a final vote tomorrow. (The assistance program has been attached to another, more popular trade bill that will be voted on later this week.)

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate