“OBAMATRADE” OFF THE RAILS?
|| By ROBERT ROMANO || Senate Democrats blocked legislation on May 12 that would grant trade promotion authority to President Barack Obama to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a commercial treaty between the U.S. and Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The vote failed to clear the 60-vote threshold, 52-45.
Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.) is demanding, according to Roll Call, “a guarantee or an agreement that the customs bill, the Trade Promotion Authority bill, the Trade Adjustment Assistance and a three-bill package that includes the African Growth and Opportunity Act, Generalized System of Preferences and reauthorization of a trade program for Haiti move through Congress and become law, his spokesman Keith Chu said.”
The customs bill, reports Rollcall.com, “would expand the definition of export subsidies to include currency undervaluation by trading partners that causes harm to U.S. companies. The United States would have to impose import duties on goods the Commerce Department identifies as benefiting from the undervaluation.”
Keep in mind, according to the initial demands, all of this legislation including the monetary provisions has to “move through Congress and become law,” not simply be granted Senate votes only to be ultimately defeated.
There’s only one problem. That would torpedo the entire agreement, say Senate Republicans, to whom the filibuster came as a surprise. Japan, for example, would drop out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership if it included monetary policy.
“We’re not open to something that was not agreed to, and flies in the face of what was agreed to,” Senate finance committee chairman Orrin Hatch told reporters, expressing dismay that the original deal to bring the bill to the floor had been altered.
As for the fate of the bill, Hatch said, “It all depends on the Democrats, not us. They’re the ones killing the bill.”
This turned out to be quite an impasse in the Senate, where easy passage had been expected for the trade bill …
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