McConnell’s amendment would have reinstated the expired Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to the administration, granting it the power to enter into trade agreements and have them considered by Congress in a clean vote without amendments. Perhaps expressing confidence that Republicans would capture the White House in the 2012 election, McConnell designed his amendment to reach into 2013.

“I want the president, whoever he is, to have that authority so that we can have the opportunity to have more agreements in the future,” McConnell said.

But perhaps sensing subterfuge, Democrats dismissed the amendment to aggrandize Obama’s power, saying its language was outdated and ought to be studied and updated more before passage.

“I agree with much of what the minority leader said, but the provision offered by the senator from Kentucky is a 2002 version and a lot has changed in the last 10 years,” said Sen. Max BaucusMax BaucusLawmakers: Leave advertising tax break alone GOP: FBI firing won't slow agenda White House tax-reform push is ‘game changer,’ says ex-chairman MORE (D-Mont.) “I think it would be unwise to extend TPA because there have been so many changes in the world today. It has to be updated.”