Entries in Trade Deals (2)


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.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate GOP Threatens to Block New Commerce Secretary Confirmation 

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Forty-four Senate Republicans Monday vowed to block the confirmation of a new Commerce Department secretary or any other trade-related nominees until the Obama administration presents lawmakers with legislation for free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

“We all know -- both Democrats and Republicans -- that the number one issue on the minds of the American people is jobs. And the easiest way and the quickest way to create new jobs for Americans here in America would be to finally ratify the free trade agreements negotiated by the previous administration that have been sitting there dormant for the entire Obama administration,” the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, said at a press conference.

The GOP senators made the threat in a letter sent Monday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

McConnell said he hoped the letter would compel President Obama to act on the trade deals.

“I think it’s a perfectly reasonable way to incentivize him to do what he says he’s already in favor of and maybe a pretty good excuse for his union allies to go forward with all three agreements, something we should have done years ago.”

The top Democrat on that panel -- Sen. Max Baucus -- has previously called on the administration to move forward with the trade pacts. A few weeks ago Baucus traveled to Bogota to emphasize that he sees an urgent need for the trade agreement with Colombia to be approved before the end of the year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio