White House Brushes Off Fast-Track Failure As Temporary ‘SNAFU’ (Updated)
Updated 2:32 p.m. | The White House is brushing off what is now expected to be the imminent filibuster of President Barack Obama’s fast-track bill on the Senate floor, with Press Secretary Josh Earnest blaming a “procedural SNAFU” for Democrats planning to vote en masse to block it. The expected vote could deal a devastating blow to Obama’s ambitious trade agenda, and amounts to perhaps the biggest rebuke of this president by his own party.
But Earnest said Tuesday the president will continue to try and push fast-track authority through the Senate even after pro-trade Senate Democrats indicated they wouldn’t back the bill unless several bills — including one on currency enforcement — would move forward.
Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee and a backer of fast-track, tweeted he will vote no unless the bills move forward together.
The White House opposes attaching currency enforcement measures, worrying they could imperil the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with Asian countries and potentially imperil the independence of the Federal Reserve.
Earnest Monday and today said existing policy has already succeeded in getting China and Japan to begin “to level the playing field” on their currencies, noting China’s currency has appreciated 30 percent against the dollar since 2010.
However, critics of the administration have noted that the administration has repeatedly certified that China and other countries are not manipulating their currency in semi-annual reports on the issue.
The Senate vote is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered to give Democrats the chance to amend the bill once debate begins, but Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., warned Democrats wanted all four bills in the package and questioned how “robust” the amendment process would be.
Many Democrats want ironclad assurances that the currency and other provisions will become law, not just have a chance to lose on the Senate floor.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.
Senate Democrats Put Conditions on Fast-Track Vote
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