Obama heads to Congress for last-minute trade push

US President, Barack Obama

US President, Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama was headed to Congress Friday for a last-minute appeal to fellow Democrats to back his trade agenda, which faces an extremely close vote in the House of Representatives.

A senior Democratic aide confirmed that Obama was to meet with House Democrats at 9:30 am (1330 GMT), some two hours before a make-or-break vote on legislation that would grant him authority to finalize a sweeping trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim nations.

The so-called Trade Promotion Authority, which lays out dozens of US negotiating priorities, will allow Obama to bring the finalized deal to Congress for an up-or-down vote, but without ability by lawmakers to make changes to the accord.

Obama is backed on trade by most rival Republicans, but many of his Democratic loyalists are opposed, arguing that the historic trade pact would lead to a loss of US jobs.

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