THE NEW YORK TIMES: Trade Accord, Once Blocked, Nears Passage




BY: JONATHAN WEISMAN | 6/23/15 | Source: The New York Times Trade Accord, Once Blocked, Nears Passage

WASHINGTON —  President Obama’s ambitious trade push is back on track, after several near-death moments, in large measure because top Republicans stood by him.

The Senate on Tuesday narrowly voted to end debate on legislation granting Mr. Obama enhanced negotiating powers to complete a major Pacific trade accord, virtually assuring final passage Wednesday of Mr. Obama’s top legislative priority in his final years in office.

The procedural vote of 60 to 37 just reached the minimum needed, but final Senate passage will require only 51 votes. The House approved trade promotion authority last week.

With congressional support for “fast track” authority, the president can press for final agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a legacy-defining accord linking 40 percent of the world’s economy — from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia — in a web of rules governing Pacific commerce. His administration can also bear down on a second agreement with Europe — known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership — knowing that lawmakers will be able to vote for or against those agreements but will not be able to amend or filibuster them.

The Atlantic agreement is not expected to be completed until the next administration is in office, but the trade negotiating powers would stretch for six years — well into the next presidency. Together those two accords would put much of the globe under the same trade rules, not only lowering tariffs and other import barriers but also creating new standards for Internet access, intellectual property and investor protections.

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