Hoeven, 11 Republican Colleagues Work To Advance Pending Trade Agreements, Trade Adjustment Authority

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven and 11 other Republican senators worked this week to advance pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. 

In a letter to President Barack Obama, the 12 senators urged the Administration to forward the agreements to the U.S. Congress for approval. In return, the senators agreed to give the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill, which the president has linked to the trade agreements, a separate up or down vote. Although the Administration won’t send the agreements to Congress prior to the August recess, Senator Hoeven believes the way is now cleared for the president to send them right after the recess. 

The senators have committed to supporting cloture on the motion to proceed to the TAA bill and the bill itself. The bill now reflects bipartisan reforms negotiated by the White House as well as U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). This commitment should provide enough votes to ensure the reformed TAA bill can pass the Senate. 

“Since visiting South Korea in April, it has become clear that we need to find a way forward on passing these important trade agreements,” Hoeven said “With unemployment hovering above 9 percent, and our economy languishing, these agreements could mean hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans and a much-needed boost to the American economy.” 

The three trade agreements combined represent more than $13 billion in increased economic activity for U.S. manufacturers and farmers. The South Korean Free Trade Agreement alone will increase the nation’s exports to that country by more than $10 billion and create 280,000 American jobs, according to the Congressional Research Service. 

South Korea has a $1 trillion economy and 49 million consumers. It’s the 15th largest economy in the world and the United States’ 7th largest trading partner. The U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement will eliminate or reduce more than 85 percent of the tariffs between the United States and Korea, including the eventual elimination of a 40 percent Korean tariff on American beef.

“Just one project in North Dakota would generate a $100 million investment in our state’s economy and create 500 new jobs if the Korean agreement is approved,” Hoeven said. “Clearly these agreements can benefit North Dakota, but they can also benefit our country at a time when unemployment is high and our economy is struggling.” 

Full text of the letter follows. 

July 19, 2011 

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President, 

As Republican Senators, we urge you to submit the Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements as soon as possible, with the understanding that we will support a separate Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill that reflects the bipartisan reforms negotiated by Chairmen Baucus and Camp and the White House.

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 separate the pending trade agreements and TAA, and immediately submit the three trade agreements to Congress. 


Senator Blunt
Senator Hoeven
Senator Boozman
Senator Brown (Mass.)
Senator Coats
Senator Cochran
Senator Collins
Senator Isakson
Senator Johanns
Senator Murkowski
Senator Portman
Senator Wicker