“I think it’s fair to say that getting these bills through Congress has not been easy,” Mr. Obama said as he signed the trade bills into law in the East Room. “They’ve been declared dead more than once.”
The two major pieces of legislation grant Mr. Obama “fast track” trade-promotion authority, which allows the president to negotiate a deal and submit it to Congress for an up-or-down vote without the chance for amendments, and expand aid for American workers who lose their jobs due to foreign competition. Members of both parties attended the bill-signing ceremony, although Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky did not, with Congress on its Independence Day recess.
The trade-promotion authority measure is arguably the biggest legislative victory of the president’s second term, and will help Mr. Obama conclude negotiations with Japan and 10 other countries on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the centerpiece of his economic agenda. The House and Senate approved both measures last week after House Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, temporarily derailed the package . . .
The president said trade-promotion authority isn’t “the end of the road” for his efforts, noting that negotiations for the massive TPP are still unfinished. Trading partners have been waiting to see whether Congress granted Mr. Obama the authority to negotiate an agreement that won’t be subject to amendments later. (Read more from “Obama Signs Internationalist Trade Legislation; Boehner, McConnell Miss White House Event” HERE)