The Senate on Tuesday voted to advance President Obama’s trade agenda, approving a measure to end debate on fast-track authority.
The 60-37 motion sets up a vote on final passage on Wednesday. If the Senate approves fast-track or trade promotion authority (TPA), it would then be sent to Obama’s desk to become law. Fast-track authority would allow Obama to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes. The White House wants the authority to conclude negotiations on a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.
Thirteen Democrats backed fast-track in Tuesday’s vote, handing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a major legislative victory.
They did so even though the trade package did not include a workers assistance program for people displaced by increased trade. The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program was a part of the last fast-track package approved by the Senate in May, but became a key part of opposition to the package among Democrats in the House.
To move fast-track forward, the White House and GOP leaders in both chambers decided to break TAA away from fast-track, and to try to approve both in separate votes.
After the Senate votes Wednesday on final passage for fast-track, it will take a procedural vote on a package that includes TAA and trade preferences for African countries known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
McConnell has promised both bills, as well as a customs and enforcement bill favored by Democrats, will reach Obama’s desk by the end of the week.
“If we all keep working together and trusting each other, then by the end of the week the President will have TPA, TAA, and AGOA and Preferences on his desk — with Customs in the process of heading his way too,” he said on the floor.
And since the House has already passed fast-track, and now must only vote on the package including TAA, which faces token opposition from conservatives, expect the TPA and shortly thereafter, the TPP, to be enacted despite yet another round of dramatic theater by the best representatives US corporations can bribe.
Today brings Round 2 in "the most transparent administration ever"'s attempt to pass the incredibly opaque Fast-Track Authority enabling Obama to negotiate the Trans-Pacific-Partnership corporate coup d'etat (and all the other trade deals currently floating around) without fear of irritation from any outsiders. However, it won't be easy-sledding as The Hill reports, labor groups led by the AFL-CIO are furiously lobbying Democrats to oppose fast-track authority when the Senate votes on a procedural motion Tuesday. Union leaders warn enabling Fast-Track prematurely would "compound its expected negative impacts, leaving U.S. workers in the lurch and depriving the U.S. manufacturing sector of vital tools necessary to combat unfair trade."
Islamic State group spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani called on Tuesday for Muslims to engage in jihad and become martyrs during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Adnani also announced an amnesty for people who fought against IS in Iraq’s Anbar province, and called on residents who had fled violence there to return home.
“The best acts that bring you closer to God are jihad, so hurry to it and make sure to carry out the invasion this holy month and be exposed to martyrdom in it,” Adnani said in an audio message posted online.
“These are your weapons and this is Ramadan.”
[This one should be read in full - as posted below]
Greece's leftwing government expressed confidence on Tuesday that parliament would approve a debt deal with lenders, despite an angry reaction from some of its own lawmakers who accused it of caving in to pressure for more austerity.
Concessions offered by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, including hikes to tax and pension contributions, garnered a cautious welcome from euro zone leaders but triggered a furious reaction from some leftists in the ruling Syriza party.
One lawmaker said the deal was tantamount to a "tombstone" for Greece, after repeated rounds of austerity during five years of crisis.
Deputy parliament speaker and Syriza lawmaker Alexis Mitropoulos said the concessions were "not in line with the principles of the left" and would cause "social carnage".
"I believe that this programme as we see it ... is difficult to pass by us," he told Greek Mega TV.
However State Minister Nikos Pappas, one of Tsipras' closest aides, said he was confident that the deal would get through.
But the euro fell on fears the plan would struggle to win approval in the Greek parliament.
Tsipras, who was voted into office in January on a pledge to roll back years of austerity in a country battered by recession, must keep Syriza as well as creditors onside for a deal to stick.
He will go to Brussels to meet European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, IMF head Christine Lagarde and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday, a statement from his office said.
The meeting will take place in Brussels in the afternoon, before a 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) meeting of the eurogroup of finance ministers that will aim to end the logjam in debt negotiations.
Underlining the delicate balancing act Tsipras faces, thousands of pensioners and members of the Communist-affiliated PAME trade union marched through central Athens on Tuesday to protest against further austerity measures.
The creditors may well come back and demand further savings, tax rises or reform measures in the drive to clinch a deal on Wednesday evening, people familiar with the situation said.
Comments by German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, warning Greece that its creditors would not be blackmailed, underscored that progress on a deal remained fragile. A European Commission spokesman emphasised that Greece needed to spell out what actions it will take before any bailout funds can be released.
If the Greek parliament fails to back a deal, Tsipras might be forced to call a snap election or a referendum that would prolong the uncertainty.
There are a lot of stories that are reported about United Nations vehicles being transported on US highways. The latest comes by way of video footage that shows UN trucks that seem to be attempting to hide their logo as they are transported on a US highway in Northern Louisiana.
While I am aware that America does produce a lot of trucks that are shipped all over the world and this may be just such an incident, it is concerning to see that the UN logos are covered with brown paper. However, it is one that appears to have been peeled back due to wind or possibly human error that reveals the logo.
The question I have is, why cover up the UN logo? It certainly isn't to protect it. After all, there is no covering over the red crosses that adorn the sides and rear of the vehicles. Additionally, with Jade Helm military exercises having begun this month, and alleged sightings of UN helicopters over Washington State, it just adds to the already high alert of American patriots who are keeping their eyes open.