The fairly noncontroversial legislation’s larger purpose in the upper chamber, however, is to serve as a vehicle for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a program which is aimed at helping workers who lose their jobs due to international trade.

“TAA is the right investment in America’s workers,” Sen. Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBottom line Overnight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor MORE (D-Mont.), who is helping to manage the bill on the floor, said prior to the vote. “It provides training and income to support thousands of Americans so they can get good paying jobs right here in our country.”

Both TAA and GSP are critical components of a greater deal the Senate is expected to take up to renew three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. President Obama supports the agreements but some Democrats, in particular, have said they will not move forward with the free trade agreements until TAA is renewed. Others like Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDoctors are dying by suicide every day and we are not talking about it Impeachment trial throws curveball into 2020 race Harry Reid: Early voting states Iowa, New Hampshire 'not representative of the country anymore' MORE (D-Nev.) outright oppose the agreements.


A fight over GSP spilled out on the floor between Baucus and Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe Iowa GOP lawmaker calls flying of trans flag above Capitol an act of the 'Rainbow Jihad' MORE (R-Ala.) on Monday, however, when the senator from Alabama argued that an error in GSP was giving foreign sleeping bag manufacturers an unfair advantage over domestic manufactorers, one of which resides in his district.

“All I am proposing is to bring uniformity to the law,” said Sessions, who has been accused of trying to earmark the legislation in order to help a local manufacturer whose community he pledged to help. 

Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sessionsm later contacted The Hill, however,  and argued it is unfair and inaccurate to call the senator's wish to remove a loophole that allows sleeping bag manufactures to dodge a nine percent tariff an "earmark."

“The only thing Sen. Sessions is trying to do is to strip an unjust earmark out of our trade laws that is being exploited by China and is funded on the back of hardworking Americans," said Miller.

Baucus, however, argued that the Senate ought to go forward with GSP, as is, since it would “help create American jobs."


“It helps Americans keep their jobs by providing he low cost input American manufacturers need,” said Baucus.

The Senate is set to continue consideration of TAA and GSP on Tuesday.

This story was updated 12:09 p.m. on Tuesday