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Friday
Sep232011

Senate Passes Worker Aid Bill, Easing Way for Trade Deals

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate helped partially pave the way Thursday night for the long-stalled trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to move forward.

By a vote of 70 to 27, called at 6:49 pm by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH.,  the Senate voted for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program which President Obama has long demanded should be passed before he sends up the three trade pacts.

The TAA’s purpose is to help -- via retraining and financial aid -- workers who lose their jobs due to international trade.  It was tied to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) bill, used as the vehicle for the trade deal.

Now that the TAA has passed in the Senate, it will help clear the way for the White House to submit, after much delay, the three trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. 

“After today's vote, the White House has no more excuses,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday night.  “The time has come to send the three pending trade agreements to Congress.  ...The White House asked us for a path forward on trade adjustment assistance in exchange for sending these deals up to Congress, and we gave it to them.”

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