Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Trade Promotion Authority, or 'Fast Track,' passed in the U.S. Senate on Friday, marking a huge blow to those who say it would endanger the economy and workers' rights. (Photo: Getty Images)

Senate Passes Fast Track Bill as Opposition Readies for Showdown

Bill will now move to U.S. House of Representatives, where opposition to Trade Promotion Authority is stronger

Nadia Prupis

At the tail end of a frenzied legislative week, the U.S. Senate quietly voted to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as "Fast Track," a bill that would give President Barack Obama increased power to ram through trade deals without congressional input.

The Senate voted 62-37 to approve a six-year renewal of Fast Track authority. The vote was expected, coming just days after the Senate voted to end debate over the legislation and move forward with the bill, which will now go to the U.S. House for what the Associated Press says will be a "highly unpredictable summer showdown".

About 20 Democrat-backed amendments to the legislation failed along the way, frustrating senators who oppose Fast Track as a threat to the economy and workers' rights. "We're not going to do that," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a lead sponsor of Fast Track, said of the amendments. "Let's face it, we're not going to debate this all over again."

As Common Dreams has previously reported, "Environmental, labor, food safety, public health, and digital rights groups oppose Fast Track on the grounds that it forces Congress to abdicate its policy-making responsibility while greasing the skids for secretly negotiated, corporate-friendly, rights-trampling trade pacts like the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership]. "

They continued to voice that opposition on Saturday. In a statement following the vote, CREDO Action deputy political director Murshed Zaheed said that supporters of Fast Track and the TPP should expect even greater resistance as those bills move forward.

"The fate of this legislation was always going to be decided in the House of Representatives—and CREDO Action members are ready to fight against it," Zaheed said. "Thanks to the activism of hundreds of thousands of Americans, President Obama and Mitch McConnell found the path to passage of fast track in the Senate was more difficult than they anticipated. They should expect an even more difficult fight in the House of Representatives."

According to The Hill, "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who led the opposition of liberal Democrats in the upper chamber, has already met Democratic House allies such as Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Mass.) to build a roadblock."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for president as a Democrat, lambasted the Senate's vote on Saturday. "The Senate just put the interests of powerful multi-national corporations, drug companies and Wall Street ahead of the needs of American workers," Sanders said in a statement. "If this disastrous trade agreement is approved, it will throw Americans out of work while companies continue moving operations and good-paying jobs to low-wage countries overseas," he continued, referring to Obama's plan to use Fast Track authority to expedite passage of the TPP.

"Bad trade deals like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership are a major reason for the collapse of the American middle class and the increase in wealth and income inequality in the United States," Sanders said.

The Hill reports that the 14 Democrats who voted in favor of Fast Track are Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Tom Carper (Del.), Chris Coons (Del.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Fast Track co-author Ron Wyden (Ore.).


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'The Problem is Corporate Greed, Boss': Bezos Blasted for Defense of Big Oil Price-Gouging

'Bezos scared," said one progressive economist after the world's second-richest person went to bat for Big Oil.

Jon Queally ·


Bodycam Footage Shows Ohio Police Shooting Jayland Walker 60+ Times

"The Department of Justice needs to step in to investigate immediately," said former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner.

Common Dreams staff ·


'Impeach Justice Clarence Thomas' Petition Nears 1 Million Signatures

"He has shown he cannot be an impartial justice and is more concerned with covering up his wife's coup attempts than the health of the Supreme Court," reads the petition.

Jake Johnson ·


'Tipping Point of No Return' Feared as Amazon Rainforest Fires Surge

"Up to now, the Biden administration has only legitimized the Brazilian government's anti-Indigenous and anti-environmental agenda," said Greenpeace USA.

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Urged to Embrace Windfall Tax as Exxon Says Profits Doubled in Second Quarter

"It's time for the president to demand that Congress pass a windfall profits tax on Big Oil and use the revenue to provide rebates to consumers NOW!" wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo