Sen. Sessions pushes GOP to block trade bill
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Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump attacks Sessions: A 'total disaster' and 'an embarrassment to the great state of Alabama' Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Washington Times after story on her 'high-dollar hairdo' Trump's tirades, taunts and threats are damaging our democracy MORE (R-Ala.) is pressing his Republican colleagues to block fast-track trade legislation ahead of an expected procedural vote on Tuesday. 

"As conservatives, we should look before we leap," Sessions said in a letter to his fellow Senate Republicans on Monday. "We have a second chance to get answers, but we will only get them if cloture is not invoked." 

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The Alabama Republican's push to get his GOP colleagues, the majority of whom previously backed trade promotion authority (TPA), to switch their votes puts him squarely against Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) 

The Senate originally passed a trade bill, which included both TPA and a trade adjustment assistance (TAA) measure, last month. The Republican leader has repeatedly called for senators to stick to their original votes so both proposals can pass the Senate this week. 

But Sessions says in the letter to members of his own party that enough new information has come out during the past month that Republicans have "more than enough basis to slow down, and not fast-track anything until all of our questions are answered." 

He added that Tuesday's vote is not a repeat of earlier trade votes but "a new vote, based on new facts and new circumstances." 

Sessions is one of five Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), who is running for president, to break rank with McConnell and vote against the trade legislation last month. 

The Alabama Republican has been vocal in his opposition to the legislation, including speaking from the Senate floor for more than an hour on Thursday. 

The Obama administration has argued that Congress passing TPA is crucial for finalizing a trade pact with 12 Asia-Pacific countries. 

But in his letter, Sessions pointed to suggestions that China could join the agreement, as well as the chances that passing TPA could allow other trade deals to be fast tracked through Congress, as reasons for senators to be skeptical.

He warned that senators should be "inherently skeptical of grand designs, too complex to oversee, whose creators can provide no specifics yet pledge utopian results." 

Sessions's push to flip Republican votes comes as McConnell and the Obama administration are working to ensure Senate Democrats who originally supported the trade legislation will vote for the stand-alone TPA bill. 

McConnell said just hours ahead of Sessions's letter that the Senate can pass both TPA and TAA "if we can continue working together in a spirit of trust and if we simply vote the same way we did a couple of weeks ago."