Legislation to help the US president seal future multinational trade agreements like TTIP has cleared an important procedural hurdle in the Senate. It set up a decisive vote on the bill scheduled for Wednesday.
US President Barack Obama's push for greater authority to negotiate trade deals with other nations moved closer to reality on Tuesday after a procedural obstacle was removed in the Senate.
Lawmakers voted 60-37 in favor of limiting debate on the legislation - a move designed to streamline Congress' consideration of trade pacts, including the controversial 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and a planned deal with Europeans.
A final vote on the bill was expected to take place on Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said passage of the measure "will indicate that America's back in the trade business."
The law would set guidelines for US trade negotiators to hammer out deals for a vote in Congress, but would prevent lawmakers from dismantling the details of such deals.
The Obama administration has frequently stated that this is necessary in order for trade officials to negotiate with other countries in good faith.
US supporters of the slated deals with Pacific Rim nations and the European Union say these pacts will be key to opening markets, help the United States keep pace with globalization - and keep China's rising economic power in check.
hg/bk (Reuters, dpa)