UPDATE 3-U.S. senator aims for bipartisan trade promotion bill

Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:17pm EDT
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* Republicans Hatch, Thune worried White House not committed to bill

* Staff on committees already in talks on the legislation

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON, April 24 (Reuters) - An influential Democratic U.S. senator said on Wednesday he was working on a bipartisan bill to boost President Barack Obama's ability to negotiate trade deals, while Republicans made clear that more White House involvement is needed to pass the measure.

"I would like to see a bipartisan TPA (trade promotion authority) bill introduced by June," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said at a hearing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, a proposed free trade agreement among 12 countries on both sides of the Pacific.

Approving the measure would help the White House conclude the three-year-old Asia-Pacific trade talks, which were expanded on Saturday to include Japan, Baucus said.

The Montana Democrat, who has been a driving force in Congress behind trade legislation, announced on Tuesday that he plans to retire at the end of his term next year.

Passing trade promotion authority this year would be a major achievement, setting the stage for votes on both the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact and another proposed free trade agreement with the European Union.

Representative Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, also wants to move quickly on a bill on trade promotion authority, said a spokeswoman for that panel.   Continued...