Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported Thursday that the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement will likely be pushed back to September, after the August congressional recess.
According to El Tiempo’s sources in Washington, while there is still time to approve the treaty, the White House has decided to focus all of its energy on resolving the partisan deadlock over raising the U.S. debt ceiling by early August.
The treaty has been held up over disagreement over a job-retraining program that has been attached to the bill. President Obama and Senate democrats want to create a retraining program to help American workers that lose their jobs due to the treaty to find new ones. Republicans are opposed to the measure because they do not want to pay for it.
Sources cited by El Tiempo expressed skepticism that the FTA would be more likely to pass after the recess, noting that senators opposed to the bill would be returning from campaigning against it and that the vote will have greater political consequences the closer it occurs to 2012 elections.
The FTA was first negotiated during the second term of the Bush administration. In addition to facing opposition from Senate Republicans, the agreement has been questioned by American unions who have expressed their concerns that more than 50% of the world’s trade unionist murders occurred in Colombia last year.