The House and Senate were both able to move the three free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea Wednesday. After overcoming a motion to recommit the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement with instructions, the House went on to pass the agreement on a 262 to 167 vote; followed by the agreement with Panama, which garnered 300 yes votes; and then the Korea trade agreement, which was approved on a 278 to 151 vote. Then the House voted to reauthorize Trade Adjustment Assistance and the Generalized System of Preferences 307 to 122. The trade agreements immediately went to the Senate for votes. The vote was 83 to 15 in favor of the Korea deal; 77 to 22 on the agreement with Panama; and 66 to 33 for Colombia.
Ahead of the vote, Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, took to the floor to point out the benefits of all three agreements. After noting that implementing the trade deals was a clear and simple way to create jobs and stimulate growth in the economy, Grassley focused on some of the agricultural benefits. The Korean deal is estimated to increase the price farmers receive for their hogs by $10 per pig. The deal with Colombia will level the playing field for U.S. corn farmers so they can begin to reclaim some of the market share lost due to high tariffs. Panama means better opportunities for a variety of ag products including beef, poultry and pork.
Along with the passage of these three trade agreements, Grassley believes Congress should pass trade promotion authority and the administration should make it a top priority to seek out more opportunities for opening foreign markets for U.S. products. He says that's a way to continue helping U.S. farmers. According to Grassley it's time to re-establish our position as the world leader in opening and expanding markets. He encouraged the administration to move forward on other job-generating trade initiatives without delay.