Levin's co-sponsorship of the South Korea is significant, as Levin was a longtime opponent of that agreement until language was added that safeguards the U.S. market against possible surges of autos from the Asian nation. The auto safeguard is one of the key differences between the South Korea FTA and the other agreements.
The submission of the FTA texts to Congress marks the end of a decade-long process under which efforts to negotiate several FTAs were launched soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Several FTAs were completed early in the last decade, but agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea were signed between late 2006 and early to mid-2007.
By then, control of the House and Senate by Democrats prevented progress toward passing the agreements. Only earlier this year did the two parties agree to move the long-stalled agreements in a deal that will see House Republicans reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which aids workers who lose their jobs because of trade.
The TAA bill, H.R. 2832, could move as early as this week in the House, and was already approved by the Senate last month.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said Monday that his committee would mark up the three agreements on Wednesday, "so that they can be considered as soon as possible by the full House."
"Further delay will only postpone the economic benefits of these agreements and cost Americans jobs as we continue to lose ground to foreign competitors who have already implemented their trade agreements with our partners," Camp added.