As expected, the Senate yesterday passed a motion-to-proceed to consideration of Trade Promotion Authority legislation yesterday, with 13 Democrats joining all 52 voting Republicans in ratifying a deal between Ron Wyden and Mitch McConnell to guarantee votes on related bills involving enforcement of trade laws. So the “dead” bill is now undead. But there’s a tough slog ahead in the Senate, where the related bills could go down and also where some Republicans are expected to peel off when it comes to formally giving the president more trade negotiating authority. And then there’s the House, where the initial vote counts do not look good at all for TPA.
So the Senate may not finish up until after May 22, when Congress takes its usual long Memorial Day break.
One by-product of this slow prognosis is that it will gradually intensify pressure on presidential candidates to take a clear position on fast-track and on the underlying Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Hillary Clinton and Scott Walker are the candidates who have managed to take no position at all. I’m not sure how long that can last.