Wednesday, 24 June 2015

U.S. SENATE APPROVES FAST-TRACK TRADE BILL


U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved the so-called fast-track trade legislation, and the bill will be sent to the White House for signing.
The 60 to 38 Senate vote capped weeks of fighting over the trade bill and gave a big push for the Obama administration's trade agenda. Already approved by the House, the bill will be sent to the President Barack Obama for signing.
The fast-track legislation, formally known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), empowers the president to negotiate trade deals and then present them to Congress for up or down vote, with no amendments allowed.
With the legislation passed by the full Congress, it will give U.S. trading partners the confidence they need to put their best offers on the table and help the Obama administration conclude the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade talks, which are nearing completion after more than five years of negotiations.
Later Wednesday, the Senate also passed a package that includes trade adjustment assistance (TAA), which provides relief for U.S. workers who lose their jobs as a result of U.S. trade deals with other countries.
The TAA measure was initially combined with the TPA in the Senate in order to boost its appeal for Democrats, most of whom oppose a trade deal. But Republican leaders split the two apart after House Democrats voted against the TAA in order to derail the larger package of trade bills. The Democrats originally supported the TAA measure.
After the fast track cleared both chambers, the TAA bill now returns to the House for approval, where most Democrats who previously opposed the aid program now plan to support it.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi signaled on Wednesday that Democrats would accept the TAA the second time. That would allow both TPA and TAA measures to go to the White House for approval this week.
With TPA in hand, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and his team are positioned to conclude TPP, an agreement covering 40 percent of the world economy, said Scott Miller, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Henry J Williams

Author & Editor

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