Obama hails Senate passage of trade package

Obama hails Senate passage of trade package
 
President Obama on Friday hailed the Senate's passage of a trade package that is at the top of his second-term agenda. 
 
Obama said in a statement the bipartisan vote is an "important step toward ensuring the United States can negotiate and enforce strong, high-standards trade agreements" and he called on the House to pass the package "as soon as possible."
 
 
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The Senate vote is a big victory for Obama, bringing him a step closer to adding a bipartisan legislative accomplishment to his legacy. 
 
But the trade package faces an uphill path in the House, where Democrats and a cadre of conservative Republicans are opposed to new trade agreements. 
 
Obama noted the package includes labor and environmental protections, as well as trade adjustment assistance (TAA) to help American workers who lost their jobs to foreign competition. 
 
"I want to thank senators of both parties for sticking up for American workers by supporting smart trade and strong enforcement," the president said.
 
The legislation gives Obama fast-track negotiating power to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the biggest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement, which would break down trade barriers between 12 Pacific Rim nations. 
 
Fast-track authority would allow the president to negotiate trade deals without Congress making changes. Lawmakers would be able to take a up-or-down vote on new trade deals, but not add amendments that could kill the agreements.
 
Democrats worry new trade deals would ship American jobs overseas, and some conservatives Republicans are wary of granting Obama more power to complete the deals. 
 
Obama said new trade deals would set high standards for workers across the globe while helping American companies sell their goods in burgeoning Asian markets.
 
"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," he said.