The US House of Represented approved legislation giving President Barack Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
The surprising turn around comes less than a week after members of the president's own party shot down a key component of the bill package. According to CNN, the Trade Promotion Authority bill narrowly passed with a 10-vote margin, 218 to 208.
In total, 28 Democrats joined all but 50 Republicans to move the bill forward to the Senate. Reuters reported that House and Senate Republicans promised to attach a worker assistance bill to a separate trade bill to bring in Democrat support.
The legislation is expected to be voted on by the Senate next week. House Speaker John Boehner remained hopeful that the Senate would approve both measures, but the trade bills remain uncertain in the Senate.
Obama has received surprising push back from members of his own party on the bill package, forcing him to join forces with the Republicans. CNN reported that many of the 14 pro-trade Democrats who had initially backed fast-track and worker assistance bills were withholding support until negotiations on the worker assistance bill are made.
Democrat Congressman Steve Israel of New York told reporters that he does not believe Democrats will vote against a programme created to aide those in need. "That is the quintessential cutting of our noses to spite our face. And it's not cutting off our noses—it's cutting off the noses of working people," he said.
Israel said he would vote for the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill, despite voting against the fast-track bill. The Trade Adjustment Assistance bill aims to help workers displaced by free trade.
If the bills are approved, the president would have the authority to negotiate his controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership deal with 12 Pacific-rim nations.