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'Fast-Track' Trade Authority Wins Key Test Vote In Senate

The Senate has voted to limit debate on a bill that would grant the White House "fast track" negotiating authority and clear a path for the Obama administration's trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim nations.

Reuters says the 62-38 vote, which clears a filibuster hurdle, boosts "hopes for a deal that is central to President Barack Obama's strategic shift toward Asia."

Many Democrats oppose the Asia-Pacific treaty, saying free-trade deals cost U.S. jobs, but the White House maintains that U.S. producers need access to foreign markets.

Politico writes: "The dramatic vote came to a successful conclusion for McConnell after he and his leadership team spent more than 30 minutes pressing supporters of the Export-Import Bank, which is set to expire at the end of June, for their vote. After huddling with GOP leaders, five Democrats and one Republican who had hinged their votes on renewing the bank's charter all voted with McConnell."

A final vote could come as early as today.

The Hill reports:

"Twelve Democrats in total voted to end debate on a measure that badly divided Obama from his party. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) were among his fiercest opponents.

"If the measure is approved by the Senate, it will set up an even tougher fight for Obama in the House, where opposition to the bill is stronger from Democrats and many Republicans reflexively do not want to give him additional power.

"The vote comes as GOP Senate leaders scramble to finish up work ahead of the week-long Memorial Day recess."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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