President Barack Obama's request for "fast-track" trade negotiating authority cleared a key procedural hurdle on Thursday when the U.S. House of Representatives approved the rules for debating the measure. By a vote of 244-181, the House advanced the controversial trade legislation, which would bolster chances for a 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal, with a vote on passage expected to follow soon. If the bill is approved by the full House, it would then go to the Senate, where votes could be held as early as next week on the legislation, which is central to President Barack Obama's goal of strengthening U.S. economic ties with Asia.
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