Latin America: Week in Review, United States

Obama Sends Free Trade Agreements With Colombia & Panama To Congress

October 4, 2011 By Staff

Today in Latin America

Top Story — U.S. President Barack Obama sent free trade agreements (FTA) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea to Congress Monday, ending months of partisan negotiations and cueing up an expected heated debate between free-trade advocates and labor unions before the deals’ approval. The three oversized envelopes marked with the president’s wax seal and 16 additional boxes of documents arrived on Capitol Hill Monday afternoon, giving Congress a chance by mid-October to pass the FTAs, along with a related worker-assistance program. The FTA’s are expected to pass through the Republican-led House with little resistance, as the Obama administration added provisions to favor U.S. carmakers in an effort to appease union opposition and Democrats are expected to stick by Obama to give him a much needed win on the jobs front as election season ramps up. The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, plans to hold a rally Tuesday on Capitol Hill to protest the deals, but with such a short time frame for passage opponents have little time to block them. House Speaker,  Republican John Boehner,  said that passing the agreements was “a top priority for the House.” The FTA with Colombia had previously been held up due to concerns about labor rights, violence and impunity in the country.

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