Senate approves fast-track trade bill

By Danielle Haynes  |  June 24, 2015 at 5:22 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to give President Barack Obama fast-track authority on a trade accord eagerly sought by the president.

The Senate voted 60-38 to approve the bill giving Obama a six-year renewal of trade promotion authority. The final passage required 51 votes.

The bill grants the president enhanced powers to negotiate the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would tie the economies of countries of Asia's Pacific Rim to those of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Chile and give the United States increased influence throughout the region.

The bill has become a White House priority and likely to be regarded as part of Obama's presidential legacy.

"This is a critical day for our country. In fact, I'd call it an historic day," Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who co-authored the bill, told USA Today. "This is perhaps the most important bill we'll pass in the Senate this year."

As presented to the Senate on Tuesday, the bill lacked requirements to offer retraining and other benefits to U.S. workers displaced by global trade agreements. A bill including the trade accord and provisions to aid U.S. workers was initially defeated earlier in June by Democrats in the House.

The Senate is expected to vote on worker protection as part of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which has support in the Senate, MSNBC reported.

The measure will then be voted upon in the House on Thursday and also expected to pass there.

Ed Adamczyk contributed to this report.

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