May 20, 2015

McConnell moves to end debate on 'fast track' trade bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday moved to end debate on a "fast track" trade bill, setting up a key test vote on Thursday and possibly final passage by the weekend.

McConnell said he would still be willing to negotiate amendments to the legislation, but accused Democrats of objecting to every amendment in an effort to stall the process and kill the bill.

Many Democrats oppose "fast track" authority, which will provide President Obama with expanded powers to secure international trade deals.

"The Senate can't move forward on amendments if there continues to be objections," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "This is a body that requires cooperation, and that cooperation has not been there for this bipartisan bill."

Democrats said McConnell is refusing to allow votes on a series of Democratic amendments, breaking a pledge to allow an open process.

"Senator McConnell filed cloture to end debate on trade, revealing his pledge of an 'open' and 'robust' amendment process to have been a farce," Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.

Reid met privately to discuss the trade legislation with Democrats on Tuesday, telling reporters "there was a robust discussion."

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