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.