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NAM: Senate cloture vote on TPA makes passage likely

The Senate on Tuesday voted 60-37 to invoke cloture on debate over legislation that would grant President Obama trade promotion authority, or TPA, clearing the way for likely passage of the bill itself when the upper chamber meets Wednesday.

The AP (6/24, Babington) says Obama’s “long-pursued trade agenda took a giant step toward becoming law” with Tuesday’s vote. Thirteen Democrats voted in favor of cloture while five Republicans voted against it.

Bloomberg News (6/23, Dougherty, Hunter) quotes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as saying: “Now it’s time for the next step. Today is a very big vote; it’s an important moment for the country.” In Reuters’ (6/23, Hughes, Cowan) estimation, passage of fast-track legislation, as TPA is also known, is expected on Wednesday and would be a major victory for Obama but a defeat for labor unions that are traditionally Democratic allies.

USA Today (6/24, Davis) reports that McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) “are pushing a two-pronged strategy for a package of bills” on trade, starting with TPA and followed by the renewal of trade-adjustment assistance, or TAA, before that program of benefits for trade-displaced workers expires Sept 30. Although Republicans “generally oppose TAA,” from the “beginning of trade negotiations it was deemed necessary to get enough Democrats on board for fast track,” USA Today says.

On its front page, the New York Times (6/24, A1, Weisman, Subscription Publication) says TPA’s “tortured path … over the last six months created the bizarre spectacle” of Obama “linking arms with Republican leaders who otherwise have worked to thwart him.” McConnell, “by summoning his parliamentary prowess,” has “all but secured the top legislative priority of a president he once vowed to turn out after one term,” the Times observes.

The Washington Post (6/24, DeBonis) describes “a roller-coaster-like legislative process” for TPA, which was “meticulously assembled and approved by the Senate, then rejected in the House by motivated Democrats, then reworked to secure passage there with mainly Republican support.”

The Wall Street Journal (6/24, A1, Hughes, Subscription Publication) reports that Democrats have been concerned by the separation of the TPA bill from one that was to have extended trade-adjustment assistance, but those who voted Tuesdayfor TPA cloture are trusting Republican leaders to keep their promise to bring the latter measure up for a vote soon.

Politico (6/24, French, Bresnahan) says the trade debate is now “shifting back to House Democrats,” whose “big decision” will be “whether to vote against” trade-adjustment assistance, which they have “long supported,” in a “last-ditch bid to derail fast-track.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) hadn’t yet said how they would vote, Politico notes, but Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), “who led the charge against the TAA bill last time as a means to defeat fast track, wouldn’t commit to voting against it again.” The Hill (6/24, Lillis, Bolton) notes that Obama has said he “would not sign a fast-track bill without assurances that there is a strategy for getting TAA to his desk as well.”

Also reporting on TPA-related developments are the Financial Times (6/24, Donnan, Sevastopulo, Subscription Publication), the Washington Times (6/24, Dinan, Wolfgang), Roll Call (6/23, Fleming), the Huffington Post (6/23, Carter),Slate (6/23, Mathis-Lilley), and Vox (6/24, Lee).

Timmons Tells CNBC: Trade Expansion Is Crucial For US Job Growth. Appearing Tuesday on CNBC’s Squawk Box (6/23), NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons stressed that expanding trade opportunities is crucial for global competitiveness and job growth in the US. “We need to sell our goods into other markets — the 95% of customers around the world,” he said, describing this as “one of the obstacles” facing American manufacturers. Timmons, whose live interview in New York took place hours before the Senate voted Tuesday to invoke cloture on debate over TPA legislation, told CNBC he was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of Wednesday’s scheduled vote on the bill itself. “I think we have the votes,” he said. The NAM chief also was asked about prospects for congressional reauthorization of the US Export-Import Bank, and he said: “I predict it will be renewed. Whether it’s renewed by the 30th [of June] or not is going to be anybody’s guess.”

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