Politico: Senate bucks Biden on beef imports with veto-proof majority

by Garrett Downs

Twenty-six Democrats joined their Montana colleague Jon Tester in voting to override the Biden administration’s decision to allow beef imports from Paraguay — ensuring the measure has enough support to override a possible presidential veto.

The 70-25 vote was led by Tester, who faces a tough reelection campaign in ruby-red Montana. He was joined on the Congressional Review Act resolution by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), who are also among the most vulnerable Democrats in the upper chamber. The vote gave the those Democrats a low-stakes, populist issue to break with Biden — who is unpopular in their states.

The details: Before the vote, Tester said the administration “butchered” the decision to allow beef imports from Paraguay. He warned that the country has a history of foot and mouth disease, which “goes through cattle like a hot knife through butter.”

The White House said it “strongly opposes” Tester’s motion, warning access to the U.S. market is critical for Paraguay to recover exports lost to Russia and withstand pressure from China to drop its recognition of Taiwan. Paraguay is the only South American nation to recognize Taiwan and has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

When USDA issued a final rule allowing beef imports from Paraguay, the department said a risk analysis concluded beef could safely be imported from the country under certain conditions.

Veto-proof majority: The CRA resolution only needed a simple majority to pass. But 26 Democrats voted to overturn the rule, a massive number openly rebelling against the White House’s open opposition. Three Republicans voted against the measure.

Though the administration did warn against the measure, it did not threaten a veto. Should the House pass it and Biden veto it, the Senate showed on Thursday it has the votes to override his veto.