With no votes to spare, the Senate salvaged President Barack Obama’s trade agenda on Tuesday, putting a measure to give him enhanced powers to strike free trade deals on track to be signed into law by the end of the week. But the lead-up to the decisive vote exposed serious friction between the two parties over the chamber’s next big problem: the imminent shutdown of a government financial institution that conservatives despise, the Export-Import Bank. Story Continued Below The trade bill advanced 60-37, with the minimum votes needed to break a Democratic-led filibuster against the so-called Trade Promotion Authority. Thirteen Democrats sided with GOP leaders on the vote, and five Republicans, including presidential contenders Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted against the legislation. But discord between pro-trade Democrats and GOP leaders was on vivid display on the Senate floor leading up to the vote. Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) could be seen having an animated talk with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) as the Republican pressed for her support and she sought a vote to renew the Export-Import Bank charter, which lapses next week. Heitkamp mentioned “Ex-Im” several times as she weighed whether to become one of… Read full this story
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