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Obama Signs 2 Trade Bills Into Law

  • VOA News

Surrounded by Cabinet officials and members of Congress, President Barack Obama signs H.R. 2146 Defending Public Safety Employees’ Retirement Act and H.R. 1295 Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, June 29, 2015.

Surrounded by Cabinet officials and members of Congress, President Barack Obama signs H.R. 2146 Defending Public Safety Employees’ Retirement Act and H.R. 1295 Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, June 29, 2015.

U.S. President Barack Obama has signed into law two hard-won bills giving him greater authority to regulate international trade deals and providing aid to workers whose jobs are displaced by such pacts.

Obama signed the measures during a ceremony Monday at the White House, where he hailed the bipartisan cooperation that was needed to get the legislation through Congress. An intense lobbying campaign pitted the president against congressional Democrats and created a rare alliance with Republicans.

The president said he believed that signing the legislation would be good for American workers and businesses and would give the United States a global competitive edge.

"This legislation will help turn global trade, which can often be a race to the bottom, into a race to the top," he said. "It will reinforce America's leadership role in the world: in Asia and Europe and beyond."

The trade promotion authority legislation, also known as fast track, is expected to speed through completion of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations with 11 other Pacific Rim nations in the coming weeks. The Senate approved the legislation Wednesday, following the House of Representative's authorization.

Weeks ago, TPA supporters had feared the deal would not be approved.

Obama also signed a measure that provides $450 million to retrain workers who lose their jobs because of expanded trade, and extends trade preferences for another decade to sub-Saharan Africa.

Obama used the event to push for more bipartisan legislation, particularly for a massive infrastructure bill that would help build new highways, airports and shipping ports.

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