House Republicans Push for Fast Action on Three Pending Trade Pacts

The new House Republicans are pushing for fast action on the three pending free trade agreements (FTAs) — with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. In a letter signed by 67 members of the 112th Congress, including freshmen members who had Tea Party support, the representatives said that they want action on the agreements within the next six months.

While the Obama administration has said it wanted to submit the U.S.-South Korea FTA by July of this year, no timetables have been announced for the other two trade pacts that have been stalled for several years. In the case of the Colombia FTA, the AFL-CIO has been the main campaigner against the agreement, charging that the Colombian government is allowing trade union officials to be killed with impunity. Yet research has shown that while Colombia is still a country with a high but declining level of violence, union officials are actually less likely to be crime victims than the average Colombian.

It’s encouraging that Republican leaders, such as Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp and Rules Committee Chairman Dreier, are also on board for speedy consideration of all three agreements.  Here’s what Camp had to say:

“The letter from 67 Freshmen members shows their commitment to a pro-growth agenda,” said Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp.  “The letter underscores the importance of passing the three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea without delay, and the critical role that these agreements play in creating good-paying U.S. jobs.  Republicans are ready to work with the President on a comprehensive trade agenda to create real and sustained private sector job creation.  Passing the three pending trade agreements is the essential first step.”

Sounds like the next step is up to the Democrats, who need to stop kowtowing to the labor unions in their continuing attacks on trade agreements that could boost economic growth.