President Barack Obama's quest for "fast-track" negotiating authority on a Pacific Rim trade deal passed its first test in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, with another day of voting to come on a contentious package of bills. By a vote of 397-32, the House approved a measure authorizing funds to help workers who lose their jobs as a result of trade deals, without cutting Medicare health benefits for the elderly to pay for it, as the Senate had proposed. In an unusual coalition, the Democratic president and House Republican leaders are allied in supporting fast-track. Most Democrats and some Republicans oppose it. The authority would strip Congress of the ability to make changes to a trade deal, but allow it to hold a yes-or-no vote on one.
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