Republican Senators Block Mock FTA Markups
July 1, 2011
On June 30, 2011, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) announced that the Senate Finance Committee would not be able to conduct the planned markup of the draft implementing bills for the three pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), as the Committee did not have the required quorum. In order for the Senate Finance Committee to conduct the mock markup, committee rules require a quorum, which must include at least one Member of each party. Senator Baucus’ canceled the hearing after Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, informed him that no Republicans would attend. Senator Baucus stressed the importance on moving forward with the three pending FTAs, noting that South Korea’s trade agreement with the European Union enters into force July 1, and Colombia’s agreement with Canada enters into force in August.
In a letter sent to the President on Thursday, Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee voiced their opposition to including renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) in the implementing bill for the South Korea agreement. Senator Hatch had previously released a statement expressing his opposition to including TAA in the Korea FTA bill and stating that the Administration should allow for a clean vote on each of the three pending FTAs. Mock markups have yet to be scheduled in the House Ways and Means Committee. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) announced that the decision on how to move trade related items through the House would be up to the Republican leadership. Senator Camp further stated that he needs to review more fully recent changes in the draft bills Chairman Baucus released.
The FTA draft implementing bills for the South Korea, Colombia, and Panama Free Trade Agreements include renewals for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA)/ Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). According to a Senate Finance Committee news release, the TAA provisions reflect bipartisan, bicameral agreements on the underlying substance of the program. The proposal to renew TAA through December 31, 2013, which is included in the draft Korea FTA bill, provides for retroactively extending coverage to TAA petitions filed since February 12, 2011. It also provides for inclusion of the key eligibility requirements and fundamental reforms from the 2009 TAA expansion. The draft implementing bill for the Colombia FTA includes renewals of GSP and ATPA/ATPDEA through July 13, 2013. The renewals would be retroactive to December 31, 2010, and February 12, 2011.
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