Sen. Graham paves way for Senate passage of China currency bill

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Graham: Trump will 'end North Korea’s threat to the American homeland' in his first term Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting MORE (R-S.C.) declared on the Senate floor Thursday that he would buck Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators near deal on sexual harassment policy change Blankenship third-party bid worries Senate GOP Overnight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' MORE (Ky.) and vote to advance legislation cracking down on Chinese currency manipulation.
 
His impassioned speech eviscerated any excuse Republican lawmakers might have for sustaining a filibuster because Democrats limited the amendment process.

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The legislation advanced by a vote of 62 to 38 after Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanEx-McConnell policy aide joining lobby firm WATCH: Sen. Flake: “More doubtful” North Korean summit will happen  Lobbying world MORE (R-Ohio) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA GOP lawmakers want Trump to stop bashing Congress Chao names participants selected for drone pilot program MORE (R-N.D.) voted 'yes' in the final minutes. Sixty votes were needed to move to a final majority vote.

Democrats were gleeful that McConnell, a formidable tactician, had been outmaneuvered just a few hours after he predicted the bill’s demise during a Wednesday evening television interview.
 
McConnell had tried to hold up the bill to protest Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell not yet ready to change rules for Trump nominees The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Trump to press GOP on changing Senate rules MORE’s (D-Nev.) use of a procedural tactic known as filling the tree to stifle GOP amendments.
 
McConnell was trying to protect his colleagues’ ability to offer amendments, as well as his own plan to force Democrats to vote on President Obama’s jobs bill.
 
But Graham punctured a hole in McConnell’s strategy by shaming any lawmaker that would vote against moving forward on the China bill.


“Enough is enough,” Graham said. “I am sorry the amendment process around this place is so screwed up.
 
“I try to be a team player where I can be, because I believe Senator McConnell is doing a very good job. Senator Reid has got his agenda [but] it is not about Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell. It is about people in my state who will lose their job if we don’t do something,” Graham said.
 
Graham said he is tired of partisan squabbles over procedure, and urged his colleagues to act.
 
“The institution I need to be protecting is the American workforce, who is having their clock cleaned by a communist dictatorship who cheats,” Graham said.

Graham backed up his tough talk by working feverishly behind the scenes with Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ, Trump reach deal on expanded Russia review Sally Yates: Trump has taken his ‘assault on the rule of law to a new level’ Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all MORE (R-Ala.) to round up GOP votes. He helped persuade Sens. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (R-Ga.), Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by CVS Health - A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration MORE (R-Ga.), Portman, and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), one of his best friends in the Senate.

Lieberman had initially told the bill’s supporters in private that he would vote 'no.'
 
McConnell said on CNBC Wednesday evening that the China bill is “probably not going anywhere” and is “highly unlikely to pass.” It was unclear from his comments whether he was referring to Senate passage or more broadly about the chances of the bill becoming law.
 
House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerGOP revolts multiply against retiring Ryan Can Jim Jordan become top House Republican? Tensions on immigration erupt in the House GOP MORE (R-Ohio) said this week it would be “pretty dangerous” to threaten China with trade sanctions because of a dispute over currency.
 
The White House does not support the bill either, but neither the president nor his advisers have made a formal statement of opposition.


—This story was updated at 12:01 p.m.