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Trade agenda faces Dems’ objections

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans pushed White House-backed trade legislation toward committee approval on Thursday despite strong objections by Democrats demanding stronger labor and environmental standards as well as a ban on currency manipulation by Asian nations.

With the GOP in the majority, there was no doubt the measure would clear the Ways and Means Committee, just as a nearly-identical measure passed the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday night. Both houses are expected to vote on the measure in the next few weeks as the administration works to complete a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with 11 other nations.

The legislation would let President Barack Obama reach trade agreements that Congress could approve or reject, but not change. Previous chief executives have enjoyed such power for decades, but the last so-called “fast track” bill expired in 2007, before the current administration took office.