WASHINGTON -- The two top lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee announced Thursday that they are nearing a deal on a bill to give President Barack Obama the fast-track authority that he will need to push mammoth new trade deals through Congress.
"We've had a very positive set of discussions, and we are in my opinion close to reaching an agreement on Trade Promotion Authority," said committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), using the formal name for the fast-track trading authority that would allow the White House to cut new trade deals with Asian and European nations and pass them through Congress with expedited procedures. Under these rules, the deals cannot be amended or obstructed by procedures, and they get a simple up-or-down vote.
That fast track authority would likely pave the way for both the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement with the European Union, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a dozen Asian nations. Both deals are larger than NAFTA.