Senate

McConnell slams Dems after failed trade vote

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell railed against Senate Democrats on Tuesday after they blocked movement on a “fast-track” trade bill. 
 
The Kentucky Republican suggested Senate Democrats who voted “no” on the trade legislation “rail against the future.” 
{mosads}”The rationale for voting … a vote that would simply have allowed the Senate to debate the issue, was overwhelming,” he said. “It was supported by the facts, and yet voices in the president’s party who rail against the future won out today.” 
 
McConnell’s remarks came after Senate Democrats voted nearly unanimously to block legislation that would allow the president to get trade bills approved in Congress by a simple majority vote. 
 
Senators voted 52-45 on a procedural measure to proceed to the legislation, with 60 votes needed to overcome the hurdle. 
 
“I don’t routinely quote President Obama, but today is no ordinary day,” McConnell said. “So when the president said the hard left is just making stuff up, when the president said their increasingly bizarre arguments didn’t ‘stand the test of fact and scrutiny,’ it was hard to argue.” 
 
The trade legislation has split Democrats, pitting liberal senators against the administration. The Republican leader said Senate Democrats were trying to “shut down” debate over Obama’s “top economic priority.” 
 
“What we just witnessed here is the Democratic Senate shut down the opportunity to debate the top economic priority of the Democratic president,” McConnell said. “I sure hope some of our colleagues across the aisle will heed the word’s of President Obama and rethink their choice.” 
 
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) flatly rejected McConnell’s logic, saying the Kentucky Republican can only blame himself for the vote. 
 
McConnell “has one person to blame for our not being on the floor now debating this important piece of legislation, and that person is the majority leader,” he said. “If we’re stuck here, that’s too bad, we shouldn’t be.” 

Senate Democrats are demanding Republicans combine the fast-track bill with three other pieces of trade legislation, including a customs bill that would address currency manipulation.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Finance Committee, said the Democrats’ demands appeared in recent days “out of whole cloth.” 

McConnell added he “explicitly did not offer the currency amendment” to the trade legislation because it would have killed the proposal. 
 
After the failed vote, McConnell filed a procedural tactic that will allow him to bring the trade legislation back up for another vote. 
 
Democrats suggested after the vote that they would continue to look for a way forward on the legislation. 
 
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the Finance Committee’s top Democrat, said with the procedural motion he is “very interested in working closely … to find a bipartisan path to get back to this legislation just as soon as possible.” 
 
But Wyden added, “the Senate should not start debate until there’s a clear path forward for each of these four bills.” 
 
Reid added that despite Tuesday’s vote, he thinks a way forward can be found.  

“I think everybody should just take a deep breath,” he said. “I think there are probably ways we can move forward on this.”

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