The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Ways and Means schedules FTA 'mock markup'

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., has scheduled a “mock markup” on implementing legislation for the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Korea and Panama, on Thursday but the conflicts between Democrats and Repbublicans on how to handle the issue of trade adjustment assistance for workers and farmers hurt by trade agreements appears to be continuing.

Camp released the documents that the committee will consider. (Links to the documents provided below)

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk welcomed the effort to move the agreements forward, but noted the administration's goals are not being met.

“We note that the Ways and Means Committee documents released today do not provide a path forward for the bipartisan agreement to renew trade adjustment assistance, and therefore are at odds with the administration's stated intentions for advancing a package that includes both the free-trade agreements and assistance for workers adversely impacted by trade. The administration remains committed to advancing the renewal of a robust trade adjustment assistance program that is the product of a bipartisan process, together with the pending trade agreements, as soon as possible.”

Camp and Obama administration officials have said they have reached agreement on a package of the trade agreements and reauthorization of trade adjustment assistance, but not on how to bring the bills up.

The White House intends to make trade adjustment assistance part of the Korea bill, while Republicans want separate votes on the measures. Trade lobbyists say that if the Korea bill and trade adjustment assistance are handled separately, both will be defeated because Democrats will vote against the Korea bill because some labor unions are not pleased with it while Republicans will vote against trade adjustment assistance.

Last week when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus scheduled a “mock markup” on the bills Republican members of his committee boycotted the meeting. “Mock markups” are used to advise the administration on congressional views on trade agreements. But under the fast track or trade promotion authority process, the administration has the authority to submit the legislation and the houses of Congress have the power to vote only up or down on the measure, not amend it.