One of President Obama's biggest goals for his home stretch in office took a big step forward today with a deal struck by leading Republicans and Democrats. It's regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed pact with 11 Pacific Rim nations that the Hill notes would be the biggest trade deal since NAFTA. In this case, the usual DC politics are flipped: Most Democrats oppose the president and most Republicans support him, reports the Wall Street Journal. Despite today's progress—it was introduced as "fast-track" legislation in the House and Senate—its ultimate fate is unclear in Congress. The New York Times predicts that for Obama, it will be "one of the toughest legislative battles of his last 19 months in office."
Making it fast-track legislation means that lawmakers would vote yes or no on the deal once the US and the other nations agree on terms, but they would not be able to add amendments. That greatly increases Obama's chances of getting other nations—including Japan, Vietnam, Canada, and Mexico—to sign on, because they wouldn't have to fear later changes. A sign of the challenges supporters face: The AFL-CIO says it will spend six figures on ads going after 16 senators and 36 members of the House, reports the Washington Post. The group is worried about the loss of US jobs, but Obama says the deal is necessary if America hopes to stay competitive against China. (Read more trade deal stories.)