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Congress Ready To Pass Free Trade Agreements

Washington, DC
Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The House and Senate are heading towards passage of free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama - ending nearly five years of negotiations over the pacts.

The Senate Finance Committee approved the measures in a mark-up hearing earlier today - they'll come up for a final vote on the Senate floor tomorrow.  The House will also take its vote on final passage tomorrow- after considering the rules for debate this evening.

The trade bills have been hung up over differences between the Bush and Obama Administrations and Congressional Democrats and Republicans over worker rights and safety in Colombia, and concerns over U.S. workers who might lose their jobs as a result of less-expensive goods from the trading nations.

The Obama Administration renegotiated portions of the Colombia deal and Congress has agreed to pass an aid program for displaced workers called Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) along with the trade agreements.  The Senate has already passed TAA. 

If the House and Senate pass the bills and the House approves TAA, the trade agreement with South Korea would be in place when that country's President meets with President Obama and addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday.

Updated: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 7:41pm (ET)

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