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Fast Track Clears Another Hurdle

The Senate voted 62-38 Thursday to limit debate on a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill the Obama administration says it needs to wrap up negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The cloture vote ends the chance of any senator to filibuster the bill. 

Senate leaders are still allowing votes on amendments, including a bipartisan one that would allow negotiators to deal with the issue of currency manipulation in the TPP talks.

But the odds of passage of TPA in the Senate improved Thursday.

“I think they will now get the votes to pass it, although much depends on the currency manipulation vote,” American Farm Bureau Federation lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher told Agriculture.com early Thursday afternoon in an email message.

Thatcher said she believes the final vote on the TPA, or fast track bill, will take place Friday.

The next step for the bill would be consideration in the House, where opposition among Democrats may be even stronger than in the Senate and where conservative Republicans are unwilling to give more power to President Barack Obama. The TPA bill prevents Congress from making amendments to a trade bill, allowing only and up or down vote. 

Most farm groups are urging speedy passage of TPA.

The National Corn Growers Association on Wednesday urged the Senate to quickly pass a clean Trade Promotion Authority bill. It opposes any amendments that could prolong debate or jeopardize the legislation.

National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling issued the following statement:

“The livelihoods of America’s farmers and ranchers are dependent on trade. We need greater access to foreign open markets and a chance to compete globally. Right now, the United States is negotiating major trade agreements in the Pacific Rim and the European Union. But the fact is, we have never passed a major trade agreement without Trade Promotion Authority. Those agreements will move on with or without us." 

   

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