New legislation designed to speed up and fast track trade deals is on course to being approved.
The new laws would allow President Barack Obama to be able to push through trade deals through Congress, with the Senate agreeing at this point that this move is important in helping to improve Asian trade options.
According to a report by Reuters, the senators voted 62-38 to set up a speedy decision on the “fast-track” trade negotiating authority the president needs to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
The TPP is what is known as a “pivot to Asia” by the President and is considered to be a way in which to counter the rising dominance of China within Asia by building stronger links with other countries in the region and the US:
Obama called the vote “a big step forward,” adding that his trade agenda dovetails with the “strong labor standards, strong environmental standards” that his fellow Democrats in Congress are demanding according to Reuters.
The report explained that Thirteen of 44 Democrats backed the legislation in the Senate’s second procedural vote. Some supported moving ahead with fast-track after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, assured them he would set a vote next month on a bill to renew the Export-Import Bank’s charter, according to leading Democratic senators. The charter is due to expire at the end of June. They were joined by 49 of 54 Republicans, giving supporters of the legislation more than the 60 votes needed to proceed in the 100-member Senate.
The details of the bill are many and varied and it seems ironic that a bill to speed up a process is taking such a long time to move through the political process, although such stalling and delays have marked a good deal of recent politics in the US with the Republicans being in control of both houses, yet a Democrat sitting in the White House.
The new rules would see members of Congress able to approve or reject a trade deal but they would not be able to amend it. It is hoped that this process will allow for a faster process to be able to take place.
According to Reuters, the White House has said it will veto the bill if lawmakers insist on penalties. It instead prefers a diplomatic approach to dissuade countries from deliberately weakening their currencies to make exports cheaper.