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A Disconnect on Free-Trade Deals

"There really can be no more excuse for inaction. ... If jobs are really a priority for the Administration and Congress, then enacting these job-creating agreements must also be a priority," Business Roundtable President John Engler said in a statement.

"Support for a broad, positive trade agenda enjoys a long bipartisan tradition in Congress, as do such programs as Trade Adjustment Assistance, the Generalized System of Preferences and the Andean Trade Preference Act. Business Roundtable continues to believe in the merit of these programs," Engler added.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue's statement was remarkably similar. "In addition to broad support in Congress for the pending trade agreements, there has historically been bipartisan support for Trade Adjustment Assistance, the Generalized System of Preferences, and the Andean Trade Preference Act."

"Likewise, the Chamber continues to support all three of these programs ... I urge members of both parties to seize a reasonable compromise and move the trade agenda forward. The time to act is now."

The trade agreements have been stalled for years, despite bipartisan support. First pushed by the George W. Bush administration, Congress has struggled to complete the deals.

Republicans have been pushing the Obama administration for months to resubmit the treaties for approval — the first step in the process — but the White House has resisted while Baucus sought to craft a deal to also move TAA.

And for business groups, the timing of the deals has become an increasing concern, as European nations have begun implementing their own agreements with South Korea and other nations, giving their companies a competitive advantage. Business and agriculture organizations have said the agreements would be an economic boon to the nation, estimating more than 100,000 new jobs could be created.

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