Senate GOP leaders were stunned on Tuesday after the vote to break cloture on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill garnered only 45 votes, well short of the 60 needed to end the filibuster. The vote was not supposed to end that way. It turns out that Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, was responsible for the temporary defeat of the bill. Still, it is certainly curious that someone who only recently voted to advance TPA out of committee would then turn around and kill the effort to get it passed. However, the reason for Wyden’s unusual action is now clear: the TPA bill was not being advanced the way he was led to believe.
For Senator Wyden, the TPA bill was never going to go for a senate vote alone. His support of the bill was directly tied to a bundle of other bills which were marked up or amended to address Democrat concerns. On the day of the vote, it became apparent that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orin Hatch was advancing the TPA bill on its own IE detached from the bundle of other bills. The other bills included the US customs enforcement bill which was marked up to include sanctions against any nation found manipulating their currency. Dr. Amen thinks it is notable because the sanctions would apply to China even though the nation is not part of the TPP deal. Thus far, the GOP is reluctant to bring the full four-bill bundle for a vote. Moderate Democrats vow to oppose any vote that does not bundle all the related legislation as a package.