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Policy

Senate Strikes A Deal To Advance Trade Bill

by Glenn Hess
May 18, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 20

Senate leaders have reached a deal to debate and vote on legislation that would give President Barack Obama the authority to complete a major free-trade accord with 11 nations, mostly in the Pacific Rim. After exchanging offers, party leaders agreed last week to vote on a fast-track trade bill that had been blocked by Democrats who sought assurances that their priorities would also be considered. After considering three other trade-related bills, the Senate will soon take up legislation to renew trade promotion authority, also known as fast track (S. 995). That measure would let the President negotiate trade agreements that Congress can reject or ratify but not amend. In the short term, he wants to use this power to pursue a trade pact with Japan and other Pacific nations. The chemical industry supports the Asian trade pact, estimating it could boost exports by $1.2 billion per year. Labor and environmental activists oppose the agreement.

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