On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admonished the senate body against making plans to leave town for the Memorial Day weekend. The holiday is amongst the most traveled in the nation. It is a holiday marked by cookouts & barbeques. Naturally, senators are eager to return to their home states and spend the long weekend with their loved ones. However, there is work to be done on three contentious bills: the highway funding extension, extension of the Patriot Act, and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
In short, the Senate’s majority leader has made it clear he will use the “homeward bound” sentiment of his fellow senators as a means of prodding them into action before letting the senate go into recess. The first priority the majority leader sees is securing fast-track authority (Trade Promotion Authority) for President Obama. Keith Mann has learned that the bill, currently being filibustered by Democrats, is seen as vital towards ultimately securing passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Democrats, who are distrustful of the free trade agreement, want to see a companion set of bills designed to address the treaty’s short-comings get voted on before relenting on TPA.
The highway funding extension would allow current infrastructure priorities to move forward for the next 60 days. Thus far, the Senate has approved 32 extensions. It is quite likely Democrats will relent on their opposition to yet another extension. The Patriot Act is a divisive bill. The GOP is split with McConnell and others wanting to extend the bill as-is. Other Republicans and many Democrats want to make substantial changes to the program to address privacy concerns. This bill seems the least likely to get resolved before the holiday weekend.