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McConnell to seek end to trade debate

McConnell to seek end to trade debate
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief MORE (R-Ky.) is expected to file a motion Tuesday to end debate on fast-track trade legislation, which could allow the controversial bill to be approved by the Senate before the Memorial Day recess.

“We’re going to press ahead with the trade promotion authority bill,” he said at a Tuesday press conference.

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Senate Democratic Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader Biden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation Senators vet Mayorkas to take lead at DHS MORE (Nev.) said Tuesday that McConnell has indicated he will file cloture on trade promotion authority later in the day, taking advantage of the divided Democratic caucus.

That would set up a cloture vote on Thursday that would require a supermajority of 60 votes to end debate.

Reid and the rest of his leadership team did not broach the divisive subject of trade at a post-lunch press conference, until reporters asked about it, a sign of the divisions roiling Democrats.

Democratic leadership staff has said for days that McConnell would not be able to pass trade legislation before the recess, which begins Saturday. But Reid isn’t sure he has the votes to extend the debate as he originally intended.

“We had a caucus today, and there was a robust discussion there,” he said, declining to predict whether he would have enough support to delay a quick final vote. “We’ll have to see when the vote takes place on Thursday.”

One amendment sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) addresses currency manipulation.

McConnell told reporters he would fight to keep it and any other proposals he deems poison pills from latching onto fast-track. He also highlighted the unusual partnership between himself and the Obama White House, which also opposes the amendment and has threatened to veto it.

“There is a veto threat from the administration if that amendment is adopted,” McConnell said of the Portman-Stabenow proposal. “We want to see a completed trade promotion authority bill that can become signature. We’d like to send a bill to the House that’s in a form that they can take up and deal with, so we’ll be working hard to keep any amendments off the bill that would defeat the bill.”

McConnell declined to say when he would file a motion to cut off debate on the trade measure.

He added that an amendment to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank will not receive a vote in relation to trade promotion authority.