September 22,2011

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Julia Lawless, Antonia Ferrier, 202.224.4515

Hatch Votes Against Domestic Spending Trade Program; Says White House Must Send Trade Agreements to Congress

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, voted against H.R. 2832, legislation to extend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and expand Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a domestic spending program that Hatch tried to reform during Senate consideration this week.  Hatch went on to call on the Obama Administration to send the long-delayed trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea to Congress for a vote. 

“We cannot afford to hold our international economic competitiveness hostage to unrelated demands for more spending. And, I simply cannot condone more spending on a program of dubious value at a time when our nation is broke,” said Hatch.  “Mr. President, it’s past time you send up our job-creating trade pacts to Congress for a vote. Abandoning our allies in Colombia, Panama, and South Korea and ceding these growing markets to our foreign competitors would be a detriment to our nation and our workers. The world waits for no one and the time for action is now.”

Hatch offered two amendments to the GSP bill.  The first would make expanded TAA funding contingent upon enactment of the three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. The second would have changed the eligibility criteria for TAA to prevent it from expanding to another out-of-control spending program. Both failed to garner the 60 vote threshold needed to pass due to the Democratic-led Senate.

According to the International Trade Commission the trade pacts with Colombia, Panama, and Korea – once fully implemented – will increase U.S. exports by over $12 billion and grow the U.S. economy by more than $14 billion. The White House has said the agreements will create 250,000 American jobs.