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Obama trade agenda gets new boost

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Six days after opponents of President Obama’s trade agenda declared it dead in the Congress, the central part of that plan was given final approval by the House, as GOP leaders and the White House once again joined in an unusual political alliance on free trade agreements.

“I’m confident that we’re in a pretty good place,” Speaker John Boehner said just before the House voted 218-208 in favor of the “fast track” legislation known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which could get a vote next week in the Senate.

“So we feel confident that the procedural snafus that we’ve all experienced over the past few weeks are in the process of getting untangled,” said White House spokesman Eric Shultz. “And we have confidence that the House and Senate leadership are working through that in real time.”

Despite loud opposition on most of conservative talk radio, almost 80 percent of Republicans voted for the “fast track” bill, which would pave the way for future consideration of a trade deal between the U.S. and a group of eleven Asian-Pacific nations.

While most Democrats were opposed to the plan, there were 28 who broke with their leadership and voted with President Obama on trade:

Next up is Senate action, which could come next week. Final approval would be a major setback for labor unions and many Democrats in the Congress, who had thought this trade effort was dead.


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