WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama praised members of Congress on Tuesday for granting "fast-track" trade authority, which will allow him to negotiate a trade deal with 11 Pacific countries that Congress will then only review with an up or down vote.
"I applaud the Democrats and Republicans in Congress who came together to give the United States the chance to negotiate strong, high-standard agreements for free and fair trade that protect American workers and give our businesses the opportunity to compete," Obama said in a statement.
The legislation faced a rocky path to Obama's desk. Democrats in both chambers successfully stalled the measure before the Senate sent the legislation to Obama's desk on Wednesday. Critics of the deal say that it is shrouded in secrecy, would cost Americans jobs, and would reward countries with poor human rights and environmental records. Obama accused members of his own party of misleading the public and has said that the deal is "the most progressive framework for trade" that the United States has ever had.
Obama also lauded Congress for sending him legislation on Thursday to provide assistance to workers who lose their jobs as a result of foreign competition. Democrats voted against that measure earlier this month because it was coupled with fast-track authority, but approved it on Thursday when it was included as part of a bill to provide trade benefits to countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
"Of course, we still have more work to do on behalf of our workers, which is why I'll continue to encourage Congress to pass robust trade enforcement legislation that will help us crack down on countries that break the rules," Obama said.
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