WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday the US Senate will pass "fast-track" authority to negotiate major trade deals this week, despite opposition to the measure from many of President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats.
"Yes, we'll pass it. We'll pass it later this week,"McConnell said in an interview with ABC's This Week.
The trade issue has made unlikely allies of the Republican majority leader and the Democratic president. McConnell said on Sunday that Obama has "done an excellent job" on the trade issue.
The Senate voted last week to consider the fast-track measure, two days after Democrats had blocked debate on the bill, which would clear the way for a 12-nation Pacific trade agreement.
The strong support on the second vote suggested senators were unlikely to reject the trade measure. Heated debate is still expected in the Senate over amendments and later in the House of Representatives, where many Democrats staunchly oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership on fears trade liberalisation will cost US jobs.
Republican US Representative Paul Ryan said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that he was confident the measure would pass the House of Representatives.
"We will have the votes," said Ryan, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. "We're doing very well. We're gaining a lot of steam and momentum."