The Senate on Monday voted 52-45 against granting President Barack Obama the congressional authority he asked for to fast-track a trade deal with 11 Pacific-rim nations, a deal which happens to be at the center of his second-term economic agenda.
According to Reuters, the vote was a victory for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, an outspoken opponent of giving Obama fast-track authority, delegating the power to negotiate this trade deal to the president, while committing Congress to a simple up-or-down vote on its ratification.
“If the Senate is going to talk about trade, we must consider its impact on American workers and the middle class,” Reid said before to the Voice of America. “It is essential that, if we move to ‘fast-track,’ we consider these other bills as part of the process.”
Just recently, Congress passed a bill giving it some review powers over the Administration’s expected deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
In April, Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized the fast-track bill and the Obama administration’s refusal to release more information about it. The president responded harshly to her attack, and was actually flirting with Senate Republicans to get his bill passed.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership would unify standards for one-third of the world’s trade, and cut trade barriers. The bill faces opposition from labor unions who say it will hurt American workers.