McConnell tees up Tuesday trade vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats seek leverage for trial Democrats spend big to put Senate in play House Democrats to vote on flavored e-cigarettes ban next year MORE (R-Ky.) teed up the Senate to take a procedural vote Tuesday on a standalone fast-track bill after the House passed legislation Thursday.  

"Our best way forward now is to consider [trade promotion authority] and [Trade Adjustment Assistance] separately," McConnell said. "That means TAA will come second after TPA, but the votes will be there to pass it. Reluctantly, not happily, but they will be there if it means getting something far more important accomplished." 
 
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The Republican leader's comments mark the first time since House Democrats threw the trade legislation into limbo last week that he's specifically laid out the Senate's next step. 
 
McConnell set up next week's votes by filing cloture Thursday on the House-passed fast-track legislation, a procedural move that, if successful, would end debate on the legislation. 
 
Under McConnell's plan, the Senate will also retackle the TAA legislation as part of a trade preferences bill. 
 
The Senate previously passed by a 62-37 vote trade legislation that included both fast-track and TAA. A Republican-led attempt to remove TAA failed to clear the Senate, getting the support of only 36 senators. 
 
McConnell acknowledged Thursday things hadn't played out as senators had originally expected, saying, "as we all know now that was not be the end of the Senate's role in the process. That's OK — not every plan turns out perfectly every time."
 
It's unclear whether Democrats, who have conditioned their support on the two pieces moving together, will back McConnell's push to pass the two pieces separately. 
 
President Obama huddled with a group of Senate Democrats at the White House on Wednesday. And McConnell on Thursday tried to pressure Democrats into supporting the stand-alone trade bill, suggesting that "a little faith" was needed to get the bill passed. 
 
"Assuming everyone has a little faith and votes the same they did a few weeks ago, we'll be able to get all of those bills to the president soon," he added. 
 
McConnell and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) tried to preempt concerns Wednesday, saying in a joint statement they were "committed" to having votes on both bills. 
 
Boehner added in a press conference Thursday morning he's hopeful the trade preferences bill, with TAA included, "will be back here as soon as next week" so they can be voted on and sent to the president. 
 
But Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wouldn't speculate about a possible outcome, telling reporters Wednesday afternoon that "we'll see what happens and what the House does and hopefully everybody will come to their senses." 
 
The House on Thursday passed the fast-track trade bill by a 218-208 vote, with 28 Democrats voting for it.