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World

House Advances Bill To Give President Obama Fast Track Trade Authority

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A deal to expanded trade with 11 Pacific Rim countries is a step closer to being real. House lawmakers voted today to give President Obama expanded power to negotiate that deal. But as NPR's Juana Summers reports, the path from here is anything but certain. She was at the Capitol for today's vote.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: On this vote, the yeas are 218, the nays are 208. The motion is adopted without objection. The motion to reconsider is laid on the table.

JUANA SUMMERS, BYLINE: Today's vote doesn't guarantee that President Obama will get the so-called fast-track authority to finalize the Pacific Trade Deal. The bill passed the House by the barest of margins. The vote comes after a week of uncertainty in Congress. Last Friday, House Democrats sank a related measure known as Trade Adjustment Assistance to aid workers who lose their jobs due to trade agreements in order to kill the trade deal. So this time, House and Senate Republican leaders have come up with a complicated procedural plan to get the trade deal through. Here's House Speaker John Boehner.

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JOHN BOEHNER: We're committed to ensuring that both Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance pass the House and Senate and go to the president for his signature.

SUMMERS: Now it's the Senate's turn. Although lawmakers there already passed a fast-track bill last month with the aid package for workers, they'll have to do it again as part of this complex plan likely next week. And then whenever the Senate is done, the House is going to have to vote on the aid package again. The trick for President Obama and Republican leaders will be to keep a handful of pro-free-trade Democrats on board throughout the process. Juana Summers, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.