Need for Growth, Jobs Finally Bring FTAs to Congress?

After five years of foregoing hundreds of millions of dollars in exports and thousands of jobs, the need for those things prior to an election campaign may finally bring the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) to a Congressional vote and the President’s signature.

Originally negotiated by 2006, President Obama refused to sign them, holding that they needed to be reopened and restructured in order to satisfy environmental and labor union concerns his supporters demanded.  Even though the changes boiled down to the U.S. telling our trading partners how to run things in their own countries, the partners have acquiesced and the reworked and reapproved agreements are in the final stages of preparation for Congress.

Because of Congressional rules and powers granted to presidents periodically, the three FTAs with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are executive agreements, not treaties.  That means under expedited procedures set up for agreements negotiated  prior to 2007, rather than a two/thirds vote in the Senate only, they need a majority vote in both houses.  No amendments are allowed.

We’ve seen no reports of nose counting in Congress but we would hazard a guess that the new members of the House elected last fall will favor expanding trade, generating sales and creating jobs.  Several key Senators have expressed support and even Treasury Secretary Geithner has said American needs the money and the jobs.  While the Adminstration had in mind to pass the South Korean FTA and let Colombia and Panama languish in order to appease its labor allies, it appears pressure will make them a package for the votes. 

We’ll background you further in an upcoming Sentinel issue.

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Published on April 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

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