Senate leaders announce ‘fast-track’ authority compromise

Republican and Democrat Senate leaders announce compromise agreement on ‘fast-track’ authority bill for 12-nation trade pact

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Republicans and Democrats in the US Senate have reached a compromise agreement to move a bill that would give “fast-track” authorities to President Barack Obama to negotiate Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.

The deal was announced on Wednesday afternoon by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), one day after Senate democrats blocked the consideration of the bill, against the will of democratic President Obama.

The compromise attaches a worker assistance provision to the bill to satisfy concerns of progressive democrats who claimed the bill would hurt US workers.  

"The plan ... will provide our Democratic colleagues with a way forward without killing the bill," McConnell said on the Senate floor after announcing the agreement.

A vote to take the bill to Senate floor for debate is set for Thursday, while the actual debate is scheduled for next week.

The legislation gives Obama the ability to send the TPP pact to Congress without the threat of amendments.

TPP aims to increase trade among 12 nations - the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam - from around the Pacific by easing trade barriers.

President Obama considers the pact as one of the most important achievements in his presidency and crucial to his diplomatic pivot to Asia.

Negotiations on the TPP are close to coming to an end but the partner countries want US Congress to give Obama fast track authorities before signing the deal to eliminate any threat of amendments.

If finalised, TPP will be the largest trade agreement since the signing of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 by then president Bill Clinton.

TRTWorld and agencies