Let Me Start: May 12, 2015

Let me start with what the Hardball Staff is talking about today: The Senate vote on President Obama’s trade agenda and the punishment that was handed down in “Deflate-gate” sparks debate.

President Obama’s controversial trade deal will face it’s first test when it heads to a Senate vote this afternoon.   Democrats are threatening to block the bill that would give the president a “fast track” authority to negotiate a trade pact with 11 other counties in the Pacific Rim, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  

READ MORE: Obama’s trade agenda faces key test from Senate Democrats

Members of both parties in the Senate remain on the fence.  Democrats want four trade bills to be considered in one package while Republicans are offering to move two bills together.  Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch told Politico he does not believe the Senate would get the 60 votes needed to pass cloture.

“Not without Democratic support,” Hatch tells Politico. “We don’t know. There’s been some indication that they’re all going to vote against. If they do, only God knows what’s going to happen.”

In other news, the NFL handed down its punishment in light of the Wells investigation into “deflate-gate” and the league didn’t hold back.  Star New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended for four regular-season games and the team was fined $1 million, the harshest fine in league history.  There is a heated debate today in light of the decision, many saying the punishment is too harsh.  Meanwhile, Brady’s attorney says his client will appeal the decision.

WATCH MORE: Tom Brady suspended for four games

“The NFL has a well-documented history of making poor disciplinary decisions that often are overturned when truly independent and neutral judges or arbitrators preside,” Donald Yee said in a statement he released on behalf of Brady Monday.  ”A former federal judge has found the commissioner has abused his discretion in the past, so this outcome does not surprise me.”

Tune into “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7pm/et for more on the day’s top stories and political news.

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Let Me Start: May 12, 2015