A controversial trade bill is well shy of the votes needed to pass the House and faces a difficult vote in the Senate as the debate in Congress kicks off in earnest this week.
[Reposted from Politico | Lauren French, Burgess Everett, and John Bresnehan | May 11, 2015]
Congressional sources say that fewer than 20 House Democrats currently back giving President Barack Obama increased powers to cut trade deals — a top priority of the White House and the business lobby. And with Senate Democrats vowing to stall consideration of Obama’s request for fast-track trade authority possibly for weeks, Republicans in both chambers face a high hurdle to get the measure through Congress.
Each side is projecting confidence that it will prevail. Indeed, this is a rare debate in Congress in which ideological lines are so scrambled that the outcome is truly anyone’s guess.
The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to take up the bill, and Minority Leader Harry Reid is leaning on his caucus to block the chamber from doing so until it first deals with reform of government surveillance programs and transportation legislation. The procedural vote is as much a barometer of the retiring Reid’s hold on his divided caucus as it is a gauge of support for the trade bill. That’s because some Democrats who back the trade bill are nonetheless expected to support the Nevada Democrat’s bid to force the GOP’s hand on the other measures.