Se­nate panel OKs Obama ‘fast-track’ trade power


A U.S. Se­nate panel voted late Wed­nes­day to give U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama author­ity to “fast­track” a mas­sive Pa­cific trade ac­cord, adding a pro­vi­sion op­posed by the White House that ad­dresses cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tion.

In a marathon de­bate, the Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee con­sid­ered dozens of amend­ments to the so- called trade pro­mo­tion author­ity ( TPA) leg­is­la­tion, a bi­par­ti­san mea­sure that sup­port- ers say is cru­cial to get­ting the 12- na­tion Trans- Pa­cific Part­ner­ship — deemed the largest free­trade agree­ment ever — across the fin­ish line.

The panel voted 20- 6 in sup­port of the TPA bill, with five Democrats buck­ing their pres­i­dent and vot­ing in op­po­si­tion along with one Repub­li­can.

The de­bate came as U. S. of­fi­cials ne­go­ti­ate the am­bi­tious trade pact with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Ja­pan, Malaysia, Mex­ico, New Zealand, Peru, Sin­ga­pore and Viet­nam.

If the fast- track mea­sure passes the full Se­nate and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, it cre­ates a sim­pli­fied mech­a­nism for Congress to ap­prove or re­ject any agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated by Obama, while pre­vent­ing law­mak­ers from mak­ing changes.

The mea­sure may have tough road in the House.

“This bill has a long way to go” be­fore it passes both cham­bers, House Speaker John Boehner said.


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