Obama said in a speech to the Chamber of Commerce earlier today that he would pursue agreements with these two countries, but did not say when he would send the agreements to Congress. Some supporters of the agreements have questioned whether the agreements would happen this year, since outgoing White House press secretary Robert Gibbs indicated last year that the administration is not close to sending up the Colombia deal.
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) spoke after McConnell and said the delay has let other countries sign their own agreements with Colombia. Despite Obama's speech today, Johanns questioned Obama's commitment to the Colombia agreement.
"I must admit, I asked the question: What on Earth is left to pursue?" Johanns asked. "It's ready for approval. And if the president thinks there was more pursuing to do, well then what have we been waiting for the past couple of years?"
The administration's delay of the Colombia agreement may come up again later this week, as the Senate is expected to consider extending Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) on Thursday or Friday. Several Republicans have threatened to delay TAA, a Democratic program meant to help people who lose jobs because of trade, until the administration sends the Colombia legislation to Congress.