Trade proponents could exhale a small sigh of relief Thursday as a trade bill, supported primarily by President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans, cleared another procedural hurdle.
There was great doubt whether the bill could clear a 60-vote threshold, and it was a side deal over the unrelated Export-Import Bank that carried it through. The bank’s charter expires on June 30, and a bipartisan bloc of senators led by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., held strong to secure a vote some time next month on reauthorization of the bank, which helps secure funding for foreign companies looking to purchase domestic goods.
How the bill will come to the floor has yet to be determined, and will be worked out with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a leading GOP advocate of renewing the authorization of the Export-Import Bank, predicted a brief lapse while the reauthorization works through Congress.
Graham said it would be, "just for a few weeks, but we'll retroactively fix that."
He expressed confidence it will ultimately hitch a ride on the legislation to replenish the Highway Trust Fund.