Final hurdle to Obama's trade agenda crumbling as many House Democrats agree to back jobs bill

Economic Indicators Associated Press

A final hurdle to President Barack Obama's trade agenda is crumbling as House Democrats abandon any coordinated effort to block a job retraining program that Obama wants.

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Some anti-free-trade Democrats had urged the defeat of a program that's usually a Democratic favorite. They saw that strategy as a possible way to thwart Obama's larger trade priority — special negotiating authority known as fast-track.

Obama has said he expects to enact fast-track and the retraining program simultaneously.

The Senate is poised to give final passage to fast track. Several top Democrats say free-trade opponents no longer have incentives to block the job retraining program.

A key Democrat on trade — Michigan Rep. Sander Levin — says he expects a large majority of Democrats to support the program.