(POLITICO) Trade proponents appear to have the momentum heading into Tuesday’s decisive Senate vote on President Barack Obama’s bid for expanded powers to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. But the suspense rose Tuesday morning when Sen. Ted Cruz announced he is switching his vote against the trade legislation, giving backers an even smaller margin for error on what’s already expected to be a very close vote.
As of Monday evening, pro-trade Democrats were keeping their positions tightly held, but sources in both parties said the trade measure is likely to win the 60 votes needed to clear a filibuster by liberals. That would put the bill on course for Obama’s desk, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner devised a complex procedural scheme to sidestep Democratic opposition in the House.
The Cruz switch means McConnell (R-Ky.) can now afford to lose only two of the 14 pro-trade Democrats who last month backed a package granting Obama “fast-track” trade authority and a companion measure to help workers who lose their jobs to free trade.
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