Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos applauded the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee’s Wednesday approval of the pending free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia, which Congress could vote on as early as next week.
“This is a big step and good news for employment and poverty in our country, and of course is good news for the Colombian Pacific, because the United States, after all, is also Pacific,” Santos said in a speech at the First International Meeting of the Pacific Basin.
The committee’s approval comes two days after President Obama submitted the Colombia trade deal, as well as agreements with South Korea and Panama, to Congress.
White House Chief of Staff William Daley announced Wednesday night that he expects that the FTAs will be “voted on in the House next Wednesday.”
House majority leader Eric Cantor, a Republican, also said that he believes Congress will pass all three trade deals.
According to CNN, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he is hopeful that the Senate will vote on the Colombia FTA next week.
“In spite of my not feeling so strong about these — I’m not a big fan of these matters — I’m doing my best to advance this so we can have a vote; hopefully as early as Wednesday of next week,” Reid announced on the Senate floor.
However, many expect longer delays, largely due to the controversial Trade Adjustment Act (TAA), a pro-labor action plan attached to the agreement.
Republicans, who form the majority in the House, have generally opposed the federal program, particularly in light of the recent budget shortcomings.
“It’s too early for us to do a victory lap,” Daley said. “We need to get all four elements in this package – the three trade deals and the TAA – across the finish line next week.”