Obama said ready to move on S. Korea trade bill

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 14, 2011 9:43 PM
Obama said ready to move on S. Korea trade bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will soon send a free trade pact with South Korea to Congress for approval despite Republican threats to vote against it because of a retraining program for workers displaced by trade, White House Chief of Staff Bill Delay said on Thursday.

"There is no time to waste fighting politics as usual," Daley said in a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the U.S.-Korea Business Council. "If we do not act before the August recess, American business will suffer."

Obama faces a showdown with Republicans over his insistence that an extension of the nearly 50-year-old Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) be passed along with the Korea pact and two other pending free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama

Republicans have objected to Obama's plan to insert the TAA program into the implementing bill for the South Korea agreement, insisting that lawmakers be allowed to vote separately on the TAA and the trade pact.

The White House believes both could pass separately.

However, Daley said Republicans have yet to offer a "credible" plan that would prevent TAA opponents from blocking a vote on the program, which Democrats see as vital safety net and many Republican view as ineffective.

"We can no longer wait. If there's no agreement on an alternative approach in the very near future, we will move forward to seek passage of the FTA with TAA" included, Daley told the audience of U.S. and Korean business officials.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Will Dunham)