This morning: Fast track on fast track
by Tom Sullivan
Reports of fast track's death were greatly exaggerated. (Good luck finding this on the front pages this morning):
President Obama's fast-track trade bill is poised to clear a procedural hurdle Tuesday in the Senate, all but ensuring it will win final passage this week and be sent to the White House for his signature.
Despite deep reservations from many in the president's party, enough Democratic senators appear ready to join most Republicans to finish the legislation, which has sputtered in Congress but is a top White House priority.
A key procedural vote on a House-passed trade promotion authority bill is supposed to occur this morning:
McConnell (R-Ky.) can afford to lose only three of the 14 pro-trade Democrats who last month backed a package granting Obama “fast-track” trade authority and a companion measure to help workers who lose their jobs to free trade. But the Senate on Tuesday is voting only on so-called Trade Promotion Authority, not the workers aid, which is known as Trade Adjustment Assistance. That has some Democrats nervous about whether a separate effort to approve worker assistance will succeed, given that Republicans strongly oppose the program.
Organized by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who is threatening to vote no, a group of pro-trade Democrats huddled for a strategy session in the Capitol on Monday evening. Most emerged tight-lipped, but several Democrats said that the vote is likely to succeed on Tuesday morning.
Fast track opponents held rallies yesterday, and another is scheduled this morning in Washington, D.C. In an email yesterday, Florida congressman Alan Grayson wrote, "The Senate will vote again on Fast Track, tomorrow. Basically, they're just going to keep voting on it, until you get screwed." Call your senators.
As much as anything else, this fight is emblematic of whether we live in a world in which money serves humans or in which humans serve money. Or has that already been decided for us?