Obama Faces a Really, Really Huge Vote Today

Senate to hold procedural vote that would grant him fast-track authority
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 23, 2015 8:06 AM CDT
Obama Faces a Really, Really Huge Vote Today
In this June 17, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama looks out as he sits on stage at the Warner Theatre in Washington.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

It's phoenix-from-the-ashes time for President Obama: The Senate will today hold a key procedural vote that would grant the president "fast track" authority to negotiate a trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim nations. For the measure to clear a procedural hurdle, at least 60 senators need to support it—a move that, as the AP puts it—would "complete a near-miraculous resurrection of the White House priority." In a late May vote, 62 senators backed fast track. They didn't expect it to return to their chamber, though, but the House revived the fast-track legislation last week. By the AP's count, Obama's backers now are counting on the 14 Senate Democrats and 48 Republicans who supported fast track in May to do so again. The Hill's numbers: It reports that Obama "can afford no more than three Democratic defections," putting the number of Democratic votes he needs at 11.

It reports that he hadn't secured those votes publicly as of last night, and names five Democratic senators who have announced they're in. The Wall Street Journal flags two "wrinkles": First, this time around the vote precedes votes on three other trade-related measures, meaning Democrats in favor of the legislation need to trust that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner can push that trio through later. Second, two Democratic senators have expressed an unwillingness to back the fast-track bill without an assurance that the Export-Import Bank's charter, which expires in a week, will be renewed. If the vote passes, Obama will be able to submit his trade pact to Congress for a simple yes-or-no vote free of amendments. (More President Obama stories.)

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