President Barack Obama faces a first test of rebellion in his own Democratic Party over trade today.
The Senate will vote on whether to debate Obama’s request for special authority that would make it easier for him to pass a Pacific Rim trade deal.
His request for fast-track authority would require Congress to take an up-or-down vote on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation agreement that’s still being negotiated.
Critics say that members of Congress should reserve the right to amend the pact, while backers say the president needs the authority to get the best possible deal at the bargaining table.
Many Democrats oppose the fast-track request, while Republican leaders have endorsed it.
A key dispute is over whether the Senate should take up a broader package of legislation that includes trade adjustment aid for displaced workers and measures aimed at ending currency manipulation, which makes it easier for countries to export goods at cheaper prices to the U.S.
The fast-track bill cleared both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee last month.