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.)

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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