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Senate Hands Obama Big Win by Approving 'Fast Track' Trade Negotiating Authority

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President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign rally for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate has handed President Barack Obama a major victory by approving "fast track" authority to negotiate trade agreements in Asia and elsewhere.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign rally for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign rally for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The 60-to-38 vote on Wednesday clears the way for Obama to seek final language on a trade agreement with Japan and 10 other Pacific-rim nations. Congress can ratify or reject such agreements but not change them.

The Senate granted Obama the same fast-track authority that previous presidents have enjoyed. The GOP-controlled House passed it earlier with help from 28 Democrats.

The vote was a stinging defeat for environmental groups and for unions that say free-trade agreements kill U.S. jobs.

Obama and Republican leaders say U.S. producers must reach more global markets.

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