U.S. Senate poised to breathe new life into Obama's trade agenda

U.S. President Obama waves goodbye after taking part in a discussion at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University in WashingtonBy Richard Cowan and Krista Hughes WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s trade agenda, which focuses squarely on developing stronger ties with Asia, gets a shot at new life on Thursday when the U.S. Senate is set to hold an important test vote on legislation to help him complete a Pacific Rim deal. Just two days earlier, Obama’s own Democrats defied him and blocked consideration of the “fast-track” trade negotiating authority he needs to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with 11 other Pacific Rim countries ranging from Chile to Malaysia. “Though I am of course wary of counting my proverbial chickens before they are hatched … I expect we will get a strong bipartisan vote in favor of finally beginning debate on these important bills,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Republican, said late on Wednesday. The Senate is scheduled to vote on Thursday on an African trade bill that is expected to win strong support from Democrats and Republicans, as well as a customs bill containing the currency rules.

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