WASHINGTON – The first trade showdown vote in the U.S. Senate is set for this afternoon.
Democratic opposition to fast track trade deal approvals has forced a procedural showdown with majority Republicans just to get onto the fast track bill, which proponents of the twelve-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership say is necessary for success.
USDA estimates the Trans Pacific trade deal could be worth $8.5 billion in U-S ag exports, but lawmakers have concerns on other areas of the wide-reasching deal.
GOP Leader Mitch McConnell set the first of possibly several showdown votes for today. It will take 60 votes to head off Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s bid to stall so-called trade promotion authority that President Obama has asked for.
“Would we rather see Chinese workers and Chinese farmers, or American workers and American farmers reap the economic benefits of selling more to this dynamic region?” asked McConnell of Senate Democrats, whose labor union allies are opposed to both TPP and TPA on fears that they will lead to an exodus of U.S. jobs.
“The other countries in the region have made clear that they will regional trade agreements with or without us,” McConnell elaborated. “And if we walk away, China will step right in.”
Obama’s trade agenda is expected to be a struggle, even if the Senate votes for it. Some analysts expect House Republicans may lose several dozen defectors and Democrats may replace just half of those.
To hear more about today’s trade showdown in the Senate, click the audio player above this story.