Senate panel poised to advance Obama's fast-track trade bill, but unions hope to kill it

Economic Indicators Associated Press

A Senate panel is poised to advance one of President Barack Obama's top trade initiatives despite strong opposition from labor unions and other left-leaning groups.

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The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on so-called fast-track legislation. It would renew presidential authority to present trade deals that Congress can endorse or reject, but not amend.

Obama wants fast-track powers to help push free-trade proposals such as the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Many liberal groups say free-trade pacts hurt U.S. jobs. Republicans generally support trade deals. But Obama needs some Democratic support in the House and Senate to assure passage.

Most or all Finance Committee Republicans support fast track. Democratic supporters include Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Tom Carper of Delaware and Mark Warner of Virginia.