Updated 2:49 p.m. | The Senate overwhelmingly passed the currency enforcement and customs trade bill Thursday, but it appears headed for oblivion in the House.
The currency provisions proposed by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., nearly sank President Barack Obama's trade agenda earlier this week , and now that it remains separate from Obama's push for Trade Promotion Authority, also known as fast track, it may remain little more than a legislative sideshow.
"To think that Congress can legislate what currency evaluations are between counties is almost laughable," Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Thursday morning. The final vote (78 to 20) nevertheless allows senators in both parties a show vote to say they voted to get tough on trade — something that could prove particularly helpful in Rust Belt states figuring prominently in 2016 — before moving on to the main event — fast-track trade authority setting the stage for mega-trade deals with Asia and Europe.
Two endangered Republicans up in the 2016 in states won by Obama — Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, voted against the currency measure, while most other Republicans facing tough reelection fights voted with the Democrats, all of whom backed the bill.