WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (UPI) — U.S. Senate leaders said they reached agreement to bring three long-delayed trade deals up for a vote when Congress returns from its August recess.
As part of the deal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also agreed to vote on the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides aid and retraining to workers who lost jobs because work was shipped overseas, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
The White House and Democratic congressional allies insisted Congress renew the worker assistance program to move forward on the trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.
Reid and McConnell agreed to bring the assistance program up for a vote before considering the trade pacts.
The trade deals, engineered by former President George W. Bush, have been held up by an impasse between Democrats and Republicans over renewing the assistance program, which expires in February. Democrats and the White House want the trade assistance renewal to be voted on along with the three trade pacts while Republicans insist they be considered separately.
“These agreements will support tens of thousands of jobs here at home,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said.
The White House and Democrats also were negotiating terms of a House vote with Speaker John Boehner, who has said he would bring the trade deals and the assistance program to the floor for a vote, the Post said.
“While some sequencing details remain to be worked out, the speaker has now clearly committed to floor consideration of TAA, along with the trade agreements,” said Carol Guthrie, a trade representative’s office spokeswoman. “The Senate leaders’ agreement on a way forward is an important step on the path to submission of the pending agreements.”