Trade bills on quick trek to approval

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 06, 2011 2:28 PM
Trade bills on quick trek to approval

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate Finance Committee will vote next Tuesday on three long-delayed trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, keeping them on a path to final congressional approval as early as next week.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus announced the upcoming panel action in a statement on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it was possible the full Senate could vote on the three pacts next Wednesday, which would be one day before South Korea President Lee Myung-bak is due at the White House for talks.

The House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee approved the three deals on Wednesday on bipartisan votes.

Congressional leaders have been discussing a plan for both the full Republican-led House and the Democratic-led Senate to vote next Wednesday on the trade deals, an industry source said.

The three pacts were delayed for years because of concerns raised mostly by Democrats.

However, President Barack Obama has worked to address those concerns and on Monday sent the pacts to Congress for votes.

The Colombia deal was signed nearly five years ago and the other two more than four years ago.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer, Editing by Neil Stempleman and Vicki Allen)