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Wyden, Merkley Split On Senate Trade Vote

The U.S. Senate gave President Obama’s massive trade deal with Asian countries a boost Tuesday.

The Senate voted 60-37 to end debate on one part of Obama’s trade package: the portion granting him expanded negotiating power, or Trade Promotional Authority (TPA).

And while it was a procedural vote, it was an important one.

The legislation has divided Oregon’s congressional delegation, especially members of the president’s party. Oregon's Democratic senators were split on Tuesday’s vote. Sen. Jeff Merkley voted against ending debate on the fast track legislation, while Sen. Ron Wyden voted for it.

"Here’s my message on why this legislation needs to move forward: If you believe those policies of the 1990s failed to protect American workers and strengthen our economy, this is our chance to set a new course," said Wyden on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Wyden made reference to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which many Democrats believe led to a decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs.

"This is our chance to put in place higher standards in global trade on matters like labor rights and environmental protection," Wyden said.

Merkley took to Twitter to voice his opposition to the legislation.

The Senate is scheduled to take up final passage of the bill Wednesday. From there it heads to the president’s desk.

Obama has said he’ll wait to sign the bill until Congress also passes a linked piece of legislation that would protect workers affected by the trade deal.

<p>President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

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President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.

<p>The crowd gathers at Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton in preparation for President Barack Obama's remarks about the Trans-Pacific Partnership on May 8, 2015.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

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The crowd gathers at Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton in preparation for President Barack Obama's remarks about the Trans-Pacific Partnership on May 8, 2015.

<p>President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

/
/

President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.

<p>President Barack Obama hugs Nike President and CEO Mark Parker before discussing the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

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President Barack Obama hugs Nike President and CEO Mark Parker before discussing the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.

<p>Congressman Earl Blumenauer discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

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Congressman Earl Blumenauer discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.

<p>President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

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President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.

<p>President Barack Obama takes a selfie with community members after discussing the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.</p>

 Alan Sylvestre

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President Barack Obama takes a selfie with community members after discussing the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.

<p>President Barack Obama drinks a cup of coffee backstage before discussing the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

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President Barack Obama drinks a cup of coffee backstage before discussing the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.

<p>President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

/
/

President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.

<p>President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

/
/

President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.

<p>President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

/
/

President Barack Obama discusses the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement at Nike's world headquarters on May 8, 2015.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Conrad Wilson is a reporter and producer covering criminal justice and legal affairs for OPB.