President Obama won a big victory for his trade agenda Friday with the Senate’s approval of fast-track legislation that could make it easier for him to complete a wide-ranging trade deal that would include 11 Pacific Rim nations.
A coalition of 48 Senate Republicans and 14 Democrats voted for Trade Promotion Authority late Friday, sending the legislation to a difficult fight in the House, where it faces more entrenched opposition from Democrats.
The Senate coalition fought off several attempts by opponents to undermine the legislation, defeating amendments that were politically popular but potentially poisonous to Obama’s bid to secure the trade deal.
“This is an important bill, likely the most important bill we will pass this year. It’s important to President Obama,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and primary author of the bill, said at the close of debate.