US Lawmakers Could Vote on Pending FTAs

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he is hopeful the Senate will vote next week on proposed free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

"In spite of my not feeling so strong about these -- I'm not a big fan of these matters -- I'm doing my best to advance this so we can have a vote; hopefully as early as Wednesday of next week," he said on the Senate floor.

President Barack Obama sent the proposed trade deals to Congress this week. The House could vote on them next week, too.

The White House, Republicans and big business groups say the deals would create jobs in the United States. The White House said the deals could spur $13 billion in new exports each year and "support tens of thousands of jobs," a senior administration official has said.

Union groups and some Democrats doubt that the deals will create jobs and oppose the deals.

The US agriculture industry has been calling for the free-trade agreement, which could open up new international markets for high-quality beef, wheat and soybeans. The US auto industry is also watching, as the deal with South Korea would mean tariffs aimed squarely at Detroit automakers would decline.

House Republicans have voiced support for the deals.

"These three trade agreements will support American jobs and help create opportunities to expand for American businesses," Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said he expects Congress to pass all three trade deals.