The debate over fast-track authority is creating strange bedfellows: organized labor and Tea Party conservatives oppose it, while establishment Republicans like Sen. Orrin Hatch have worked hand-in-glove with Pres. Obama to shepherd the legislation toward passage.
Thirteen Democrats voted with 47 Republicans to advance fast track in the Senate Tuesday. Five Republicans — including presidential candidates Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky — voted with 32 Democrats not to move the bill forward.
Hatch complimented Obama for staying engaged to secure Democratic backing until just before the vote.
“In this case, he really did work it hard,” Hatch said. “Without him I’m not sure we would have gotten this result.”
McConnell said that the process he set up will put several trade bills on the president’s desk before Congress adjourns for a week-long July 4 recess. He said Tuesday that the Senate will have a final vote on fast-track on Wednesday.
A national business coalition has lobbied hard for the fast-track bill, and the White House took up the fight last year in an unusual alliance with Republican congressional leaders. Many Democrats, who blame the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs, are opposing Obama.