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GOP cries foul after Senate blocks defense bill

After a Senate vote on Thursday blocking funding for a $612 billion defense bill, Republicans are crying foul on Democrats who they say have "lost sight of American values."

"Taking care of our troops should be our top priority, but it isn't on the Democrats' to-do list right now," Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Montana, said Saturday in a video. "They've lost sight of American values in favor of Washington politics. To think President Obama still has no strategy to defeat and destroy ISIS, yet his party has a strategy to get more money for the IRS."

The Senate passed the defense policy bill Thursday -- one which the White House has repeatedly threatened to veto. The wide-ranging bill provides a pay increase for military servicemen and women, gives $3.8 billion to Afghan security forces, and accelerates ship-building, among other measures.

GOP pushes $612 billion defense bill

Just moments after the vote, Senate Democrats then blocked a separate bill that would fund it.

"You see, the president and his party want more money for big government agencies like the IRS and the EPA," Zinke, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said. "And in order to get it, they plan to hold our troops hostage."

Democrats are, in fact, against the way the bill skirts congressional budget caps by siphoning money into an emergency war fund exempt from the spending limits.

Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, argued against "doing funny money" on defense spending, saying that the GOP was instead cheating federal agencies like the FBI and National Institutes of Health.

The Obama administration's opposition to the bill stems from measures that would make it harder to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees out of the Cuba prison and would force the White House to provide lethal assistance to Ukrainian forces fighting against Russian-backed separatists.

Zinke warns, however, that Democrats intend also "intend to shut down the entire federal government" over the bill.

"Mr. President, I appeal to you as commander-in-chief to stop this game your party is playing with our national security," the former Navy SEAL said. "It's dangerous and it's wrong."

Obama still "optimistic" on trade

In his own video, the president addressed the recent complicated battles over trade playing out in Congress.

Despite the prolonged debate over -- and heavy Democratic opposition to -- fast-tracking trade deals like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Mr. Obama said he remains "optimistic" about trade negotiations.

"Several members of Congress disagree" on trade, the president said Saturday in a video. "That's why it's still tied up there, along with a lot of along with a lot of other good ideas that would create jobs."

But, Mr. Obama said, "eventually, I'm optimistic that we'll get this done."

The House passed fast-track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) as a standalone bill Thursday with a 218-208 vote, largely along party lines. The legislation would allow Congress to give an up-or-down vote on TPP, with no chance to amend the negotiated trade deal.

The Senate will have to vote again on the House's standalone TPA bill -- and though the fast-track authority passed with Democratic support the first time, it only did so after lengthy negotiations to include Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which would provide aid to workers whose jobs have been impacted by trade deals. It's unclear whether the House's TPA bill, without the worker protection provisions of TAA, will have enough votes from Senate Democrats to pass.

If the Senate passes the House version, the House will once again take up a TAA vote.

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