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*-- Trade bill passes crucial Senate hurdle --*

WASHINGTON (UPI) - The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to end debate on a trade accord eagerly sought by President Barack Obama, clearing the way to the final passage of the bill.

Approval required 60 votes, and the 60 to 37 result was narrow, but the final passage, expected later Tuesday or Wednesday, requires only 51 votes. The bill grants the President enhanced powers to negotiate the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would tie the economies of countries on Asia's Pacific Rim to those of the United States, Canada and Mexico and give the United States increased influence throughout the region.

The bill has become a White House priority, and likely to be regarded as part of Obama's presidential legacy.

As presented to the Senate Tuesday, the bill lacked requirements to offer retraining and other benefits to U. S. workers displaced by global trade agreements. A bill including the trade accord and provisions to aid U.S. workers was defeated earlier in June by Democrats in the House.

The House has already approved the bill, as it was presented to the Senate, indicating it could quickly arrive on Obama's desk for his signature. The separate bill, known as the worker assistance bill, is part of a measure involving trade with African countries and is expected to pass the Senate by Thursday.


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