Senate sets hearing for Obama trade pick

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He is not considered a controversial nominee, unlike Obama's choice to head the Commerce Department, Penny Pritzker, the heiress to the Hyatt hotel fortune. Pritzker's investments and tax returns have come under intense scrutiny. 

Republicans and many Democrats are eager to have a fully functioning USTR in order to complete negotiations for a TransPacific trade agreement and U.S.-European Union pact. To finish these agreements, the Obama administration is expected to push for expanded trade negotiating authority from Congress this year. 

Such authority would limit the ability of Congress to change or delay approval of trade pacts, giving foreign governments confidence that negotiated agreements will stand. Experts say such confidence is needed to ensure all sides give their last, best offers at the bargaining table.