Sen. Graham paves way for Senate passage of China currency bill

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamConservation remains a core conservative principle Graham: McCain 'acted appropriately' by handing Steele dossier to FBI The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems eye next stage in Mueller fight MORE (R-S.C.) declared on the Senate floor Thursday that he would buck Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems eye next stage in Mueller fight House Oversight Dem wants Trump to release taxes and 'get it over with' Senate rejection of Green New Deal won't slow Americans' desire for climate action MORE (Ky.) and vote to advance legislation cracking down on Chinese currency manipulation.
 
His impassioned speech eviscerated any excuse Republican lawmakers might have for sustaining a filibuster because Democrats limited the amendment process.

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The legislation advanced by a vote of 62 to 38 after Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTrump faces political risks in fight over GM plant GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration MORE (R-Ohio) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenDem lawmaker 'confident' bipartisan group will strike deal on border funding Congress in painful start to avoid second shutdown Republicans want Trump to keep out of border talks MORE (R-N.D.) voted 'yes' in the final minutes. Sixty votes were needed to move to a final majority vote.

Democrats were gleeful that McConnell, a formidable tactician, had been outmaneuvered just a few hours after he predicted the bill’s demise during a Wednesday evening television interview.
 
McConnell had tried to hold up the bill to protest Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid slams Comey for Russia election meddling Suicide is not just a veteran problem — it is an American problem The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game MORE’s (D-Nev.) use of a procedural tactic known as filling the tree to stifle GOP amendments.
 
McConnell was trying to protect his colleagues’ ability to offer amendments, as well as his own plan to force Democrats to vote on President Obama’s jobs bill.
 
But Graham punctured a hole in McConnell’s strategy by shaming any lawmaker that would vote against moving forward on the China bill.


“Enough is enough,” Graham said. “I am sorry the amendment process around this place is so screwed up.
 
“I try to be a team player where I can be, because I believe Senator McConnell is doing a very good job. Senator Reid has got his agenda [but] it is not about Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell. It is about people in my state who will lose their job if we don’t do something,” Graham said.
 
Graham said he is tired of partisan squabbles over procedure, and urged his colleagues to act.
 
“The institution I need to be protecting is the American workforce, who is having their clock cleaned by a communist dictatorship who cheats,” Graham said.

Graham backed up his tough talk by working feverishly behind the scenes with Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAfter Mueller, Democrats need to avoid the Javert trap Mueller probe: A timeline from beginning to end Mueller's investigation ends, but divisive political circus will continue MORE (R-Ala.) to round up GOP votes. He helped persuade Sens. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissEx-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances The Hill's Morning Report - Trump budget reignites border security fight Senate buzz grows for Abrams after speech electrifies Dems MORE (R-Ga.), Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonThis week: Congress set for next stage of Mueller probe fight Trump keeps up attacks on 'horrible' McCain, despite calls from GOP, veterans Crenshaw to Trump: 'Stop talking about McCain' MORE (R-Ga.), Portman, and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), one of his best friends in the Senate.

Lieberman had initially told the bill’s supporters in private that he would vote 'no.'
 
McConnell said on CNBC Wednesday evening that the China bill is “probably not going anywhere” and is “highly unlikely to pass.” It was unclear from his comments whether he was referring to Senate passage or more broadly about the chances of the bill becoming law.
 
House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner says it's Democrats' turn for a Tea Party movement House Republicans find silver lining in minority Alaskan becomes longest serving Republican in House history MORE (R-Ohio) said this week it would be “pretty dangerous” to threaten China with trade sanctions because of a dispute over currency.
 
The White House does not support the bill either, but neither the president nor his advisers have made a formal statement of opposition.


—This story was updated at 12:01 p.m.