McConnell blames Dems for bottleneck on trade
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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 HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators 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 PortmanCost for last three government shutdowns estimated at billion The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Ohio) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowRepublicans to hand out 'baseball cards' mocking Gary Peters in Michigan Senate Democrats accuse administration of burying climate change reports Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' MORE (D-Mich.), and another to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank by Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg courts critics on Capitol Hill | Amazon makes climate pledge | Senate panel approves 0M for state election security Zuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers to discuss 'future internet regulation' 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." 
 
 
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."