Forty-eight Republicans and 14 Democrats voted to close debate on fast-track authority for President Obama this morning and set up a final vote for Wednesday.
Some Democrats had been resisting the so-called “trade promotion authority,” or TPA, bill, but after a procedural maneuver that took out some of the parts they objected to and pasted them into a bill they supported, the Democrats supplied the final votes to close debate on TPA.
Only five Republicans voted against the bill (Susan Collins, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby), and Mike Enzi did not vote.
The rest of the Republican caucus voted to move this monstrosity forward. The final vote hasn’t happened yet, so it’s still possible it could die in the Senate.
However, if the TPA passes, Obama has his autopen ready to sign it.
Of all the devious plots buried in the Obamatrade package, this one bill might be the most insidious. With its passage, the Senate will no longer be able to stall, modify or effectively block any sort of trade deal Obama wants to concoct.
Right now, treaties go first to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which can decide to send the treaty to the full Senate, with or without a specific recommendation, or it can ignore the treaty and let it sit. When a treaty gets to the full Senate, it can debate the treaty and its own recommendations and reservations before voting.
All of that bureaucratic stuff is important because it gives the states a say in any treaty that will affect them.
Under fast-track, the treaty will be plopped on the Senate desk, and the Senators will have to vote straight up yes or no, without any amendments, changes or usual negotiating. In other words, fast-track is designed to silence the voice of the states and their people, which is you and me.
Despite the ridiculous shroud of secrecy that has surrounded much of the Obamatrade package, enough information has been leaked to make plain that it will be a supremely bad deal for the American people.
Remember all that one-world conspiracy talk the mainstream media has trained you not to believe. Well, it’s true, and it’s called Obamatrade. According to the available information (because they have to pass it before we know what’s in it, remember), Obamatrade will allow international committees to set labor and trade rules for the U.S., including environmental, wage, health care, manufacturing and just about any other type of rule a collection of foreigners could think of to inflict on the U.S.
And the Senate, with the help of Republicans, is about to neuter itself.
Any sane person would vote against this, but as so many are supporting it, I have to wonder how much blackmail and how many personal ambitions are in play here.
Bearing in mind that a vote to close debate is not a vote to pass the bill, I still wonder in particular about Ted Cruz, who along with Sessions offered a package of amendments that has not been adopted.
Cruz has pinned his opposition on whether House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell allow the Export/Import Bank to expire, a strangely obscure stance when there is so much constitutionally wrong with the fast-track concept.
The logical conclusion is that those constitutional issues are not foremost in his mind, and it doesn’t take much of a leap to imagine Cruz is thinking forward to the time when he may be president and want to use the fast-track authority himself.
Will the Senate fulfill Obama’s fantasy of virtually unlimited power, or will it kill fast track and gut Obamatrade? Stay tuned.