Gardner and Bennet vote to clear the way for fast-track approval

The U.S. Senate began clearing the way Tuesday for President Obama to move forward with his signature trade deal.

The Senate invoked cloture, a vote to end debate on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill, on a 60-37 vote. This allows the Senate to work on the TPA bill sent over from the House last week. Both of Colorado’s senators, Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner, voted with the majority on Tuesday. A final vote on the TPA bill has not yet been announced, but it is likely to take place this week.

The bill would grant the President fast-track authority to continue negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation free-trade deal. Legislation related to the deal has been tied up in Congress for more than a month.

Congress must still address a separate bill to provide funding to support Americans who lose their jobs due to the trade deal.

Opponents, primarily Democrats, have opposed the trade adjustment assistance (TAA) bill, claiming it would use Medicare funds to pay for worker education and retraining and that the funding is insufficient to take care of that task. Supporters, including Colorado’s senators, believe the free-trade agreement will reduce tariffs on American goods with the Asian-Pacific partner nations. Colorado’s beef industry stands to gain from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, because it could include negotiations to reduce the tariffs on American beef, especially with Japan.

The TAA bill died in the House on June 12. Senate Republican leaders pledged Tuesday to revive the TAA bill in the coming week.

Photo credit: Backbone Campaign, Creative Commons, Flickr

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.