Congress returns from a two-week Easter recess on Monday and they'll have a full plate. Farm Bill negotiations have been ongoing during the recess at the staff level. Another item on the agenda that has received less attention is the pending free trade agreement with Colombia.
According to United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab the Administration plans to send the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement to Congress next week. Since the agreement was made before the Administration's fast-track negotiating authority expired last summer, Congress has 90 legislative days to vote yes or no on the measure once the President sends implementing language.
The TPA with Colombia has been a very contentious issue for many members of Congress. Although the agreement would open two-way duty-free trade between the countries, some are opposed to passage without labor and environmental reform in Colombia.
Schwab says the opposition has more to do with politics than the substance of the agreement. She points out that the agreement is virtually the same as the deal with Peru which was approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority.
The USTR Office has released a summary of the agreement and fact sheet on how the TPA would benefit both nations. To view the summary, click HERE.