Following successful votes on the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and one specifically regarding currency manipulation, the U.S. Senate voted yesterday 65-33 to start debate on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA would allow President Obama to submit the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to Congress for a straight up-or-down votes without any amendments.  TPA, if passed, would last for six years.

The successful vote on Thursday allows for TPA to advance to the Senate Floor to be considered for passage after amendments are offered and voted on.  The Senate will move forward with debate on Monday, with a potential vote on Wednesday, May 20.

On Tuesday, Democrats had blocked Republicans from advancing the “fast-track” bill without also voting on the measure to curb currency manipulation.  Many Democrats remain stung by the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which is blamed by labor unions for a decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs.  The currency manipulation proposal passed by a vote of 78-20.

The rebellion Tuesday among Senate Democrats seeking the currency provision previews what may be fiercer battle ahead between House Democrats and Speaker Boehner.  Timing on House action is still uncertain.