The Senate Finance Committee approved on Wednesday evening a Trade Promotion Authority bill, by a vote of 20-6, after many hours of debate over proposed amendments.  On Thursday night, the House Ways and Means Committee approved its TPA bill by a vote of 25-13.

President Obama has been pushing for passage of Trade Promotion Authority, which would guarantee that trade deals can receive an up-or-down vote in Congress without any chance of being amended.  The president maintains TPA is critical for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which would be the “highest standard, most progressive trade agreement in our history,” Obama said this week.

Obama administration officials say passage of a TPA bill is critical to pushing Japan and Canada to make concessions on their agricultural import barriers and other issues in the TPA agreement ahead of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Washington next week.

The Senate Finance Committee bill had the support of a majority of the panel’s minority Democrats.  Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) joined five of the committee’s 12 Democrats in voting against the TPA bill.  Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ron Kind (D-WI), both on the House Ways and Means Committee, voted with the majority Republicans to approve its TPA bill.

The TPA legislation is likely to be on the House and Senate floors in the next few weeks.