US President Barack Obama’s call for “fast-track” negotiating authority on trade to help him clinch a Pacific Rim deal has cleared a key hurdle in the US Senate, Reuters reported.
The Senate is likely to vote Wednesday to grant Obama the power to speed trade deals through Congress, including his Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
If that happens, the fast-track measure will go to the White House for Obama’s signature.
That would be a major win for the Democratic president and a setback for some of his allies, US labor unions that have campaigned against the TPP out of fear it could destroy US jobs.
The Senate voted 60-37 Tuesday to limit debate on the fast-track measure, just meeting the 60-vote threshold needed.
“Today is a very big vote. It’s an important moment for the country,” said Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, the chamber’s top Republican, in urging senators to support the 12-country TPP, a central part of Obama’s foreign policy pivot to Asia.
Democrat Sherrod Brown, who voted no on fast-track, said the trade deal would benefit companies at the expense of workers.
“This is a day of celebration in the corporate suites of this country,” Brown said after the vote.
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