Leaders in the Senate reached an agreement earlier this month to move forward with the Colombia, Panama and South Korea free trade agreements. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says Congress now has to wait to see if President Obama will send the FTAs to the Hill.
"Having had the goal posts move on us several times over the years on these three agreements," Grassley said, "I remain cautiously optimistic that we will finally get a chance to approve these important agreements."
The main issue that had to be overcome was Trade Adjustment Assistance.
"They were insisting that it be part of the Korean agreement and we insisted that it be voted on separately and I think they've agreed to that," Grassley said. "I think the reason they agreed to that is they found out there would not be an attempt to filibuster Trade Adjustment Assistance in the Senate and it would move forward. As long as they were sure that Trade Adjustment Assistance was going to pass, then they were willing to let the free trade agreements go separately."
If TAA gets through the Senate, Grassley says it will easily get through the House.
"The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee was probably more willing to compromise with Democrats more than Senate Republicans were," Grassley said. "So I think it's worked out to everybody's satisfaction."
As long as Obama agrees and sends the FTAs to Congress, Grassley expects they will be considered early on when members return from the August recess. Once the Senate has a chance to vote Grassley believes they will pass all three agreements.
Speaking in Peosta, Iowa Tuesday, President Obama told his audience that these trade deals should be passed as they will level the playing field for American companies. No folks benefit more than rural Americans when it comes to trade and he says that's the reason that our agricultural sector is doing incredibly well, and that has spillover effects, ripple effects throughout the economy here.