A new bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate Thursday has kicked off what could be the biggest legislative fight of President Obama's last years in office.
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, has unveiled an agreement with ranking Democrat Ron Wyden over a bill to give the president an executive power known as "trade promotion authority." Paul Ryan, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the House, is expected to support a similar measure.
The provision basically allows the White House to fast-track international trade deals through Congress. Legislators would get a basic yes-or-no vote on those agreements, but they won't be able to add amendments or tie them up in procedures.
Barack Obama - general through the years
New bipartisan push could give Obama more trade powers
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, June 25, 2015, in Washington, after the Supreme Court upheld the subsidies for customers in states that do not operate their own exchanges under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama waves as he finished speaking at the Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco, Friday, June 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama arrives at San Francisco International Airport on Friday, June 19, 2015, in San Francisco. Obama is scheduled to attend the Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and two fundraising events on Friday. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
President Barack Obama pauses as he sits on stage as Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks during her investiture ceremony, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, at the Warner Theatre in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama smiles as he makes a visit to the Congressional baseball game at Nationals Park, on Thursday, June 11, 2015, in Washington (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Barack Obama stands left as German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks in Kruen, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, Sunday, June 7, 2015, before attending the G-7 summit in Schloss Elmau hotel. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama waves to members of the media as he walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, June 6, 2015, to head to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on his way to Germany to attend the G-7 summit. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama smiles during an event with Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative fellows, Monday, June 1, 2015, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One before his departure from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Obama had traveled to New York to attend a private democratic fundraiser and was returning to Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama listens during his meeting with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama and Ensign Taylor Teryle Tennyson strike a pose after he received his diploma and commission at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduation, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New London, Conn. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 08: U.S. President Barack Obama walks across the South Lawn before departing the White House on Marine One April 8, 2015 in Washington, DC. Obama is traveling to Jamaica and will then attend the Summit of the Americas meetings in Panama. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama looks down at his notes during a bilateral meeting with Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller at the Jamaica House, Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Kingston, Jamaica. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One under a rainbow upon departure from Kingston, Jamaica on April 9, 2015. Obama is heading to Panama to attend the Summit of the Americas. (Photo by Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 02: U.S. President Barack Obama walks from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden to deliver remarks on negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program on April 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. In exchange for Iran's agreement to curb their country's nuclear proliferation, the United States would lift some of the crippling sanctions imposed. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 30: President Barack Obama speaks during a formal ceremony to dedicate the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston on March 30, 2015. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - MARCH 23: President Barack Obama speaks to gathered business leaders at the SelectUSA Summit at the Gaylord National Hotel at the National Harbor in Washington, USA on March 23, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - MARCH 21: (AFP OUT) President Barack Obama (C) sits with his brother-in-law Craig Robinson (R), his nephew Avery Robinson (2-L) and daughter Malia (L) while attending the Green Bay versus Princeton women's college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament, March 21, 2015 in College Park, Maryland. President Barack Obama's niece Leslie Robinson plays for Princeton. (Photo by MIchael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during the second-annual White House Student Film Festival in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 20, 2015. The event features the winning short films created by students highlighting the idea of service and helping the community. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: U.S. President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order, titled 'Planning for Sustainability in the Next Decade' in the Oval Office of the White House on March 19, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The order will cut the Federal Government's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40 percent from 2008 levels over the next decade. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks at Boise State University on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)
President Barack Obama greets people in the tarmac as hr arrives on Air Force One at Gowen Field Air National Guard Base?, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in Boise , Idaho, en route to Boise State University where he will discuss the themes in his State of the Union address. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama speaks at Boise State University, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in Boise, Idaho, about the themes in his State of the Union address. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama visits with 3-5 year-olds at the Community Children's Center in Lawrence, Kansas, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, before speaking about the themes in his State of the Union address. Akira Cooper is at right. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama greets visitors who gathered to watch the departure of Air Force One, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, at Forbes Field in Topeka, Kansas, en route to Washington. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
President Barack Obama greets people after speaking at the University of Kansas Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, in Lawrence, Kansas. Obama was speaking about the themes in his State of the Union address. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
President Barack Obama speaks during a visit to the University of Kansas Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, in Lawrence, Kansas. Obama was speaking about the themes in his State of the Union address. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
US President Barack Obama signs an executive order promoting private sector cybersecurity information sharing after speaking at the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California on February 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this March 22, 2012, file photo, President Barack Obama arrives at the TransCanada Stillwater Pipe Yard in Cushing, Okla. The GOP-controlled House and Senate will likely put pressure on the White House to approve TransCanadaâs Keystone XL Pipeline in 2015. If Congress manages to push through policy changes, such as lower taxes for medical device makers and lighter regulations for coal, it could lift stocks in the health and energy industries, market strategists say. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 12: U.S. President Barack Obama walks toward Marine One before departing the White House, March 12, 2015 in Washington, DC. President Obama is traveling to Los Angles, California to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live television show, and attend a DNC roundtable. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National League of Cities annual Congressional City Conference in Washington, DC, March 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (R) hugs US Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, one of the original marchers at Selma, during an event marking the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, March 7, 2015. The Obamas traveled to Selma to commemorate Bloody Sunday, when civil rights marchers attempting to walk to the Alabama capital of Montgomery to end voting discrimination against African Americans, clashed with police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama walks off Air Force One on February 14, 2015 as he arrives in Palm Springs, California where he will spend the Presidents Day weekend. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama is silhouetted as he speaks at the TransCanada Stillwater Pipe Yard in Cushing, Okla., Thursday, March, 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
With oil pump jacks as a backdrop, President Barack Obama waves to the crowd prior to speaking at an oil and gas field on federal lands Wednesday, March 21, 2012, in Maljamar, NM. The president is defending his energy agenda this week, traveling Wednesday to a solar panel plant in Nevada, but also the site of a future oil pipeline in Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
President Barack Obama speaks after touring Sempra's Copper Mountain Solar 1 facility, Wednesday, March 21, 2012, in Boulder City, Nev. The president is defending his energy agenda this week, traveling Wednesday not only to the solar panel plant in Nevada, but also later to oil and gas fields in New Mexico and the site of a future oil pipeline in Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
President Barack Obama steps to the podium to speak in the White House's Brady Briefing Room after signing the payroll tax cut extension, Friday, Dec. 23, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, in National Harbor, Md. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
President Barack Obama speaks to troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at Osawatomie High School, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, in Osawatomie, Kan. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., addresses a rally in Columbia, S.C., Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., listens to Christina Stewart during a roundtable discussion on women's issues in a Charleston, S.C., deli Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks at a rally at Lander University as supporters hold up large cardboard numbers that spell "08" in Greenwood, S.C., Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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Trade promotion authority has been around in some form or another since the 1970s, and it's been instrumental in passing other big trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement.
But it requires Congress to pass a law ceding that power to the president. The last such law expired in 2012, and the White House has been pushing for a renewal.
Oddly enough, the Obama administration's main supporters in Congress are pro-business Republicans, who argue the measure is crucial to securing free-trade agreements and strengthening the U.S.'s economic hand around the world.
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan told CNBC, "Our trade partners won't give us their best offer if they think that when we bring it to Congress, they'll just rewrite it."
But top Democrats and labor groups don't want Congress to lose oversight of deals that could potentially cost U.S. workers their jobs.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement, "Trade deals have wide-ranging impacts and shouldn't be negotiated behind closed doors and then rubber-stamped."
Complicating matters further, the first deal that's expected to get the "trade promotion authority" treatment will be the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive free-trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 Asian countries. The deal has been in the works for years and has attracted criticism over the secrecy of negotiations.