Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (left) touted the economic benefits of tying a trade adjustment assistance measure to pending free-trade pacts, but ranking member Orrin Hatch said it should be debated on its own.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said earlier in the day that the president has fought for an ambitious trade agenda to help double U.S. exports in five years.
“As part of that agenda, he has fought for Trade Adjustment Assistance for those American workers who lose their jobs due to increased imports or outsourcing,” Carney said in a statement. “As a result of extensive negotiations, we now have an agreement on the underlying terms for a meaningful renewal of a strengthened TAA. ... Now it is time to move forward with TAA and with the Korea, Colombia, and Panama trade agreements, which will support tens of thousands of jobs.”
Opponents of the trade deals cast doubt on whether there really is an agreement to move to a vote on the pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
“I think what’s happening right now is an attempt to create momentum when there isn’t really momentum,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “I think they’re also testing to see how many freshman tea party Republicans join Sen. McConnell on the warpath against the whole package if TAA is put onto Korea. If he takes a bunch of freshman Republicans with him, they have a problem.”