U.S. senators agree on path to fast-track trade bill

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 16, 2015 10:52 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. senators said on Thursday they could present a bipartisan bill to move trade deals quickly through Congress as soon as later in the day after reaching agreement on aid for workers hurt by trade.

At the start of a committee hearing on trade, Republican Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and the panel's top Democrat, Ron Wyden, said the committee could reconvene later on Thursday, if needed, to consider legislation that is key to closing a 12-nation Pacific trade pact.

"An agreement must include not only trade promotion authority, but other vital issues like trade adjustment assistance and enforcement," Wyden said.

"The train absolutely must be on parallel tracks."

Hatch said he recognized that trade adjustment assistance, which provides support and retraining to workers whose jobs are lost due to trade, was necessary to secure Democrat support and would ensure there was a fair vote.

Fast track authority restricts Congress to a yes-or-no vote on trade deals in exchange for setting negotiating objectives, laying out how much information is available about draft texts and other ground rules for negotiators.

It faces opposition from some conservative Republicans opposed to delegating power to the White House and Democrats worried about the impact on jobs and the environment.

Many lawmakers are also pushing for tough rules against currency manipulation.

(Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Dan Grebler)