‘Fast track’ trade measure sought by Obama wins final approval in Senate

A key plank of President Obama’s trade agenda won final approval in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, capping a dramatic few weeks that saw the legislation nearly collapse amid Democratic infighting.

The Senate voted 60-38 for a bill giving Obama so-called “fast track” authority to negotiate trade deals. The bill, already approved by the House, now goes to Obama’s desk.

The vote marks a remarkable turnaround for an initiative that House Democrats nearly killed earlier this month.

Though both parties have been divided on the issue, it was particularly problematic in the Democratic caucus – in the end, Obama’s biggest allies were Republican congressional leaders.

Opening Senate debate on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a frequent Obama antagonist, credited the president and Democrats who joined the GOP on the bipartisan measure.

“Associated Industries of Missouri applauds Senator Blunt and Senator McCaskill for supporting the Trade Promotion Authority bill approved today by the U.S. Senate and sent to President Obama for approval,” said Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri.

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