The US Senate overcame bitter divisions on trade policy and passed legislation that gives President Barack Obama authority to swiftly forge international trade pacts, including a landmark Pacific Rim accord under negotiation. The measure now heads to the House of Representatives where it’s fate is uncertain. While Senate passage is a dramatic victory for Obama, the bill clearly faces a fierce debate in the lower chamber, where lawmakers signalled there is intense opposition from within Obama’s own Democratic Party. The bill, which pushes Obama’s top legislative priority in his second term, passed on a 62-37 vote, with all but a handful of Republicans backing their rival in the White House. TPA is “likely the most important bill we’ll pass this year,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, who co-wrote the legislation that lays out 150 ambitious US trade priorities including human rights, environment and labour protections. But most Democrats voted no, highlighting some of the fiercest opposition to Obama in his six-plus years in office. Senate Democrat leader Jeff Merkley crystallised the sentiments of many free trade critics, who say the accord will promote a hemorrhaging of American jobs, much like the North American Free Trade Agreement is blamed for doing a generation earlier.