Thumbing its nose at the wide swath of constituencies and civil society groups that oppose corporate-friendly trade deals, the U.S. Senate voted Thursday to end debate on Fast Track trade legislation, handing a significant victory to President Barack Obama and moving the bill a step closer to passage.

Fast Track, or Trade Promotion Authority, would allow the president to send the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as well as other so-called “free trade” pacts, to Congress for an up-or-down vote, preventing such deals from being amended by Congress. The authority would remain in place for six years.

According to news sources, a final vote on Fast Track could come as soon as Thursday afternoon if senators agree to limit the final 30 hours of debate allowed under Senate rules.

“The majority of our senators chose corporate polluters over the American people by voting to forfeit their input into trade negotiations.”
—Luísa Abbott Galvão, Friends of the Earth

The Huffington Post reports that “[t]he measure nearly failed, and only advanced after about a dozen senators engaged in a tense discussion in the middle of the Senate floor while they were still several votes shy.”

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In the end, the bill passed 62-38; the full roll call can be viewed here.

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