- On Thursday the Senate cleared a key procedural hurdle to passing Trade Promotion Authority, which would guarantee President Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership an up-or-down vote in Congress.
- The procedural vote was 62-38, just barely more than the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. Most of the support came from Republicans.
- The bill must still be approved by a majority of the Senate and will also require approval in the House of Representatives.
President Obama says he needs trade promotion authority to negotiate the TPP
Trade promotion authority, also known as "fast track," is legislation that guarantees trade deals will get an up-or-down vote in Congress without amendments. Obama's predecessors, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have enjoyed the authority, which allowed them to negotiate a number of trade deals. But the authority expired in 2007, and Obama has struggled to get Congress to renew it.
The White House says fast track is needed to get trade deals done because other countries will be reluctant to bargain knowing that Congress might try to modify a deal after it has been negotiated.
Of course, many fast track opponents don't want the negotiations to succeed. They've argued that the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, currently being hammered out by countries such as the United States, Japan, Chile, and Vietnam, would benefit big companies at the expense of ordinary workers.