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Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 10:37

Obama signs trade bills into law

By Reuters

Obama signs trade bills into law
Surrounded by Cabinet officials and members of Congress, President Barack Obama signs H.R. 2146 Defending Public Safety Employees’ Retirement Act and H.R. 1295 Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, June 29, 2015, in the East Room o f the White House in Washington. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama on Monday signed into law legislation that gives him "fast-track" power to push ahead on a Pacific Rim trade deal that has been the subject of intense debate in Congress and across the nation.

Flanked by some of the lawmakers who supported the bill through a six-week congressional battle, Obama acknowledged that his fight to secure the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership was far from over.

"We still have some tough negotiations that are going to be taking place," Obama said at a signing ceremony. He noted that lawmakers and the public will be able to scrutinize the trade deal before it is finalized. "The debate will not end with this bill signing," he said.

The package also included aid for workers who lose their jobs as a result of trade, and an Africa trade preferences bill.

Obama wants the trade deal to be a central part of his administration's foreign policy pivot to Asia. He also hopes to complete an ambitious trade deal with the European Union.

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