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Senate Jumps Dem Hurdle To Grant President More Trade Authority

Senate Democrats agreed to allow a bill that would make it easier for the Senate to pass future trade deals to the floor for debate Wednesday, after banding together to block the bill Tuesday.

The bill granting the president trade promotion authority (TPA) would make it harder for the Senate to complicate future trade deals, including the massive Trans Pacific Partnership deal President Barack Obama is currently negotiating with 11 other nations.

Under TPA rules, the Senate would have to vote yes or no on a future deal, with no chance to amend the bill and only 20 hours of debate. And instead of the usual 61, only 51 votes would be required to pass the deal. (RELATED: Fast-Tracking Lets Prez Hide Details Of Trade Deals)

TPA supporters, especially Obama, say the fast track process is necessary so negotiating countries can be certain of the deal they agree to and that what the president signs will actually be passed by Congress. Critics contend it’s a dangerous concession of Senate power to the executive branch. (RELATED: Obama Wants Critics To Take His Word On TPP)

Senate leaders reached a deal to move forward on the bill Wednesday that concedes some of the demands of Senate Democrats, who blocked its consideration Tuesday.

The Senate will vote on an enforcement that would crack down on currency manipulation, and on a bill to reduce tariffs to Africa, before voting on TPA and another measure designed to expand protection of American workers who lose out under trade deals.

McConnell said on the floor Wednesday the deal offers Democrats “a sensible way forward without killing the [TPA] bill.”

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