— -- In a major win for President Obama, the Senate voted Friday 62-37 to pass the so-called "fast track" Trade Promotion Authority.
The so-called “fast track” authority would ease the path for Obama's sweeping Trans-Pacific trade deal and empower the president to send his trade package to Congress for a strict up or down vote with no amendments or filibusters and make it subject to a simple majority. The TPP deal would be the biggest free-trade pact in decades and is aggressively opposed by liberal Democrats, labor unions and others.
Obama credited the bipartisan vote as “an important step toward ensuring the United States can negotiate and enforce strong, high-standards trade agreements.”
“If done right, these agreements are vital to expanding opportunities for the middle class, leveling the playing field for American workers, and establishing rules for the global economy that help our businesses grow and hire by selling goods Made in America to the rest of the world,” Obama wrote in a statement Friday.
Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden also cheered the vote.
“This to me is what we’re sent here to do,” Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said following the vote. “Tackle big issues in a bipartisan way.”
But many Democrats were staunchly opposed to the measure, despite intense lobbying from President Obama over the past several weeks.
The House is expected to vote on the measure as soon as next month, but it faces another tough vote in the lower chamber with most Democrats opposed to the legislation.
House Speaker John Boehner suggested supporting the measure is “a no brainer” but warned that its passage will depend on Democratic support as well. Republicans do not have enough votes to pass the measure on their own.
“The House will take up this measure, and Republicans will do our part, but ultimately success will require Democrats putting politics aside and doing what’s best for the country,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Let’s seize this opportunity to open new doors for the things Americans make and the people who make them."