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Under US corporate-run media blackout, Pacific 'trade' pact moves step nearer after Senate vote

Published: June 23, 2015
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Reuters Reports:

President Barack Obama's quest for a Pacific Rim trade deal to strengthen U.S. ties with Asia advanced on Tuesday, with the Senate moving toward a final vote on granting Obama the power to speed trade agreements through Congress.

Senate approval of "fast-track" negotiating authority for the president was likely to follow on Wednesday. That would move the trade package closer to completion, but a hurdle on a related measure remained in the House of Representatives.

In a win for Obama and a defeat for labor unions skeptical of the trade deal, the Senate voted 60-37 to limit debate on the fast-track measure. That just barely satisfied the 60-vote threshold needed after two senators who supported the bill on its first run through the Senate a month ago - Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Ben Cardin - changed their votes to "no."

"Today is a very big vote. It's an important moment for the country," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the chamber's top Republican, in urging senators to support Obama's 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a central part of his foreign policy pivot to Asia.

Democrat Sherrod Brown, who voted "no," said the trade deal would benefit companies at the expense of workers. "This is a day of celebration in the corporate suites of this country," he said after the vote. Unions and strongly liberal groups said they would punish trade supporters for their votes in upcoming elections.
 

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