Congressional committees moved three long-stalled free trade agreements closer to ratification as members held a “mock markups” for implementing the bills Thursday.
The proposed FTAs with South Korea, Colombia and Panama got the congressional nod from both houses. The Senate Finance Committee also got bipartisan agreement on Trade Adjustment Assistance, an issue that split the parties and caused a postponement of proceedings last week.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the committee, said the bills were “a major victory for American ranchers, farmers, workers and businesses who have waited far too long for action. Today’s vote brings us one step closer to creating the hundreds of thousands of new U.S. jobs and the growth that our economy desperately needs.”
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said the mock markup “sends an important signal to the Obama Administration that the House of Representatives is prepared to move forward with these job-creating trade agreements. These agreements will spur economic growth, create 250,000 U.S. jobs and increase exports by $13 billion. The time to move forward is now.”
The sessions allowed Congress to suggest changes before the White House submits the final bills. Under the president’s fast track authority, the Senate must approve or reject the agreements with no amendments.
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