Today twelve Republican Senators joined together to send a letter to  President Obama urging him to send up the Colombia, Korea and Panama trade agreements as soon as possible. They also stated they will support a separate Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)  bill similar to the one negotiated by Chairmen Baucus and Camp and the White House.

From the letter

“In order to move this process forward, we commit to supporting cloture on the motion to proceed to such a TAA bill and cloture on the bill itself. We believe that the trade agreements and TAA should receive separate up or down votes on their merits.

We therefore urge you to sperate the pending trade agreements and TAA, and immediately submit the three trade agreements to Congress.”

Reaction from Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp:

“I applaud the action by my Republican colleagues in the Senate who have shown a path forward on TAA that should clear the way for the Administration to send the three job-creating free trade agreements to Congress.  I have said it before and I will say it again that if the Administration formally sends up the agreements to Congress without TAA, I will formally mark up those agreements and TAA on the same day.  I urge the Administration to move quickly and send these agreements because one thing is perfectly clear: we are already losing ground to our foreign competitors.  Reports show that EU exports to South Korea are already up nearly 20 percent in the handful of weeks since that agreement entered into force.  Those are contracts and relationships our workers and employers should have had a shot at.  Washington must act and act now; we cannot afford to let these trade agreements languish any longer.”

Each day that passes without a vote on these agreements we fall further behind our competitors. As Chairman Camp points out, the EU-S. Korea deal went into effect on July 1 and we can no longer afford to wait.