McConnell blames Dems for bottleneck on trade
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE on Wednesday placed the blame squarely on Democrats for the stalemate over amendments to a key trade bill. 
 
The Kentucky Republican said while he is continuing to try to allow for additional amendments to the fast-track legislation, Democrats are standing in the way.
 
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"There have been objections from the other side of the aisle, and I would remind our colleagues that even with my strong support, the Senate can't have a robust amendment process if every single amendment offered by Democrats or Republicans is objected to by our friends on the other side," the Republican leader said. 
 
He added that Republicans will "need cooperation. The Senate can't vote on amendments that are being prevented." 
 
Senators had been expected to vote Tuesday on at least a handful of amendments to the trade promotion authority bill, which allows the president to get his trade deals approved by a simple majority vote. But that effort appeared to hit a wall after Democrats blocked Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP eyes limits on investor tax break Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (R-Utah) from scheduling more votes. 
 
Democrats wanted Hatch to block McConnell from filing cloture on the trade bill until Wednesday, but he declined. 
 
More than 100 amendments have been filed to the trade bill from both sides of the aisle, but so far senators have taken only two votes, both on Monday. 
 
The amendment fight has focused on two issues: A currency amendment from Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open Reddit hires first lobbyists Senate panel approves bill compelling researchers to ‘hack’ DHS MORE (R-Ohio) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowDems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Red-state Dems need more from Trump before tax embrace Stabenow: ‘Kid Rock might actually win the Republican primary’ MORE (D-Mich.), and another to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank by Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellUse tax reform to strengthen what’s working: The low-income housing tax credit Senate energy bill is misguided gift to Trump’s dirty fossil fuel agenda Help states solve their housing problems with the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act MORE (D-Wash.). 
 
The Portman-Stabenow amendment would require that any future trade deals include enforceable currency provisions.
 
The Obama administration, as well as Senate Republican leadership, have warned the bill would be vetoed if Portman's amendment is included. 
 
"The Portman-Stabenow amendment will kill TPA," Hatch said. "It is at this point a verifiable fact." 
 
Hatch said he and Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax CEO faces outraged lawmakers | Dem presses voting machine makers on cyber defense | Yahoo says 3 billion accounts affected by 2013 breach MORE (D-Ore.) had introduced a separate amendment on currency that he said would give the administration a "workable set of tools to counteract manipulation" without jeopardizing the trade legislation. 
 
Wyden also tried to separate the currency fight from the trade bill on Wednesday, saying that senators will be able to battle it out over currency as part of a conference committee on a customs bill later this year. 
 
"We are going to have a chance to tackle currency in that conference," Wyden said.
 
Meanwhile, the fight over extending the charter of the Ex-Im Bank bubbled over on Tuesday night. 
 
McConnell said earlier on Tuesday that the bank would get a vote, but that it shouldn't be a part of the trade bill. 
 
Cantwell said Tuesday that she would continue to object to the trade bill until she was told how the bank's charter would be extended. 
 
"Until our colleagues give us an answer about something we've been clear about for more than a year, we are going to continue to object," she said. "We're not going to let this bank expire, the credit agency, without a fight." 
 
 
Reid on Wednesday credited Cantwell for pressing on the bank, adding that without her "it would be gone with all the other stuff that goes into the trash can because of the Republicans."
 
"The Republican leader said over and over again that he's opposed to the bank," he said. "Well, that's too bad."