Obama Still Uncertain On Ways To Proceed With FTA Bill

Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap News The Barack Obama administration is still looking for the best timing to send a bill on a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea to Congress, a senior official said Wednesday, with no clear signs of a breakthrough in federal debt limit talks. "Senior-level discussions continue on the timing for formal submission of the bill," Carol Guthrie, assistant U.S. trade representative for public and media affairs, told Yonhap New Agency. Relevant committees at the Senate and the House of Representatives approved their own draft bills on FTAs with South Korea, Colombia and Panama in "mock" mark-ups last week. Many expected Obama to submit the final version of the bills to Congress sometime this week, given the time needed for voting and other procedures. Obama, hoping to boost exports and create jobs, is eager to complete the long-delayed process before Congress enters summer recess on Aug. 6. His push for a package deal on the FTA bills and the renewal of a special worker assistance program, called Trade Adjustment Assistance, is strongly opposed by Republicans. A source said Obama is still contemplating possible steps in the face of the partisan backlash and he is more likely to submit the FTAs to Congress next week rather than this week. Furthermore, Obama would not want to be distracted from the more urgent task of averting a looming debt default, added the source. Unless he strikes a deal with Republican lawmakers on the raising of the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, the U.S. government will default on its debts. Read original post here.