House finishes Obama trade bills, eyes turn to Pacific pact

AP News
Posted: Jun 25, 2015 12:47 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved the final pieces of President Barack Obama's hard-fought trade agenda and sent them to his desk.

The vote clears the way for Obama's administration to wrap up negotiations on a 12-nation Pacific-rim trade deal and send it to Congress under newly approved "fast track" rules.

Congress can reject or ratify the pact but not change it.

The House voted 286-138 Thursday for a "trade preferences" bill. It includes money to retrain workers displaced by trade deals.

The retraining program normally is a Democratic priority. But it briefly became hostage to House Democrats' unsuccessful efforts to block fast track.

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Unions and liberal groups say free-trade agreements hurt U.S. jobs. Obama and most GOP leaders say U.S. products must reach more markets.