Obama urges House to pass worker assistance measure, seeks to revive struggling trade agenda

Economic Indicators Associated Press

President Barack Obama is calling on lawmakers to pass a worker assistance package whose defeat has placed his trade agenda in deep jeopardy.

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Obama on Friday issued a statement saying that the measure known as Trade Adjustment Assistance is to expire soon and inaction will hurt workers.

Obama says new trade agreements should go hand in hand with support to American workers who've been harmed by trade in the past.

The House voted against the trade assistance 302-126 on Friday after Democrats who typically support such aid decided it was the best way to undermine Obama's efforts to gain trade negotiating powers.

The trade bill would give Obama "fast track" authority to complete trade deals Congress could approve or reject but not amend.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

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President Barack Obama is paying a surprise visit to Capitol Hill in an 11th-hour bid to save his struggling trade bill.

The legislation looks short of votes because of Democratic opposition as it faces showdown votes in the House on Friday.

Obama will speak to House Democrats at a special caucus meeting behind closed doors in the basement of the Capitol.

A House Democratic aide was not authorized to discuss the visit because it had not been publicly announced and confirmed it on condition of anonymity.

The trade bill would give Obama so-called "fast track" authority to complete trade deals Congress could approve or reject but not amend.

Many Democrats fear it would cost American jobs.