As Fast Track Vote Approaches in House, Democrats May Have Last Word
Tight vote expected this week as alliances over presidential authority bill remain up in the air
The U.S. House of Representatives is gearing up for a vote on the contentious legislation that could grant President Barack Obama increased power to speed so-called "trade" deals through Congress, and its fate is still up in the air as foes and allies draw their battle lines.
Trade Promotion Authority, also known as Fast Track, passed the U.S. Senate last month, but faces a much tougher fight in the House. Strong opposition comes from progressives and other critics who worry that Obama will use Fast Track to pass agreements like the pro-corporate Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
[T]he Fast Track bill would grant Congress an up-or-down vote on Obama's trade deals, but prohibit amendments or a filibuster in the Senate. The authority is seen as a necessary step in the president's bid to finalize the highly secretive [TPP], which continues to amass foes on many fronts.
So far, 128 Democrats in the House have come out against Fast Track, with some of the most outspoken opposition coming from Keith Ellison (D-Mich.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Donna Edwards (D-Md.).
As The Hill explains, "Democratic support will be vital to the fate of the measure, as GOP leaders don't have the 217 or 218 votes — pending a replacement for Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) — to pass it through the lower chamber on their own."
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Many Republican lawmakers who support TPP are nonetheless opposed to Fast Track as they are unwilling to vote in favor of granting Obama more power.
Fight for the Future, a civil liberties organization, on Monday warned that Fast Track is a "death sentence for democracy."
The Hill continues to update its list of House leaders and their stances on Fast Track.