GOP Caves, Gives Obama Fast Track Powers

The Senate on Tuesday voted to advance President Obama’s trade agenda, approving a measure to end debate on fast-track authority.

The 60-37 motion sets up a vote on final passage on Wednesday. If the Senate approves fast-track or trade promotion authority (TPA), it would then be sent to Obama’s desk to become law.

Fast-track authority would allow Obama to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes. The White House wants the authority to conclude negotiations on a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.
Thirteen Democrats backed fast-track in Tuesday’s vote, handing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a major legislative victory. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) voted against the procedural motion.

The Democrats cast “yes” votes even though the trade package did not include a workers assistance program for people displaced by increased trade. The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program was a part of the last fast-track package approved by the Senate in May, but became a key part of opposition to the package among Democrats in the House.

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