When the United States Senate approved the bill for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) in May, the bill was bundled together with what is known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). Senate Democrats demanded assistance for workers who will see their jobs shipped overseas as a result of the free trade agreement. Igor Cornelsen seems to think that the caveat was the job retraining program was paid for by cuts to Medicare. Still, TAA allowed the bundled legislation to become a bipartisan effort winning 62 votes and ending a Democrat filibuster of TPA.
Then, the unexpected occurred when the House rejected TAA by a wide margin. Ironically, the GOP was able to muscle through TPA as a standalone bill. However, this sets up a scenario where the Senate must once again take up a vote on TPA without the TAA bill attached to it. As a result, it is unclear if the bill will have sufficient votes to break a Democrat filibuster. Last month’s vote for the bundled bill saw 14 Democrats voting for it. This time around, only four Democrats remain behind the bill. They are Senators Diane Feinstein of California, Ron Wyden of Delaware, Ben Nelson of Florida, and Tom Carper of Delaware. The other ten senators are now officially undecided. Even a small defection of Democrat senators will derail the bill. In a bid to hold onto Democrat support, both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have vowed to bring up TAA as a separate measure and get it passed after the TPA vote.