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Senate Passes TPA, Obama’s Trade Agenda Advances

President Obama’s signature is the last thing remaining before Trade Promotion Authority can become a law, letting the leader settle in-talks trade deals that stand to reshape the U.S. market.

The Senate voted 60-38 Wednesday to pass TPA, the fast-track trade measure key to concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that the U.S. is negotiating with 11 Asia-Pacific nations representing 39 percent of the world economy.

American Apparel and Footwear Association president and CEO Juanita Duggan said in a statement Wednesday, “Free trade agreements open markets for U.S.-made and U.S.-branded goods while creating duty-free sourcing opportunities, which is what the clothing and shoe industry depends on to grow and reach new customers.”

“The Senate’s work on trade doesn’t end today. I said the Senate would finish pursuing the rest of the full trade package, and it will,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said. “But the key victory for American workers and products stamped “Made in the U.S.A.” comes today.”

TPA will now go to the president’s desk for a signature, but because of the pending votes in both the House and Senate on Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), the measure that would allow for aid to workers put out by free trade deals, there is no telling yet how soon he will sign.

The TAA measure was previously part of the TPA package, but opposition to the costly program led leaders to separate the measures to move fast track forward.

TAA has instead been paired with the trade preferences package, including AGOA renewal for 10 years, a GSP update and an extension on aid to Haiti through the HOPE/HELP program. The measures remain to be approved by both the House and the Senate.

President Obama could wait until the TAA/trade preferences package is passed before he signs the TPA bill.