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Senate Approval Process In Question For U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
Date: 4/13/2011
Written By: BNA

The pending free trade agreements with Korea and Panama are eligible for fast-track congressional treatment, experts say, but differing House and Senate parliamentarian rulings put into question trade promotion authority in the Senate for the pact withColombia… "The prevailing rumors are that the House and Senate parliamentarians have come to opposite conclusions on the question," William Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, told reporters April 8, adding, "These are rumors because no one has said anything publicly because the issue hasn't been presented." A Feb. 8 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on TPA refers to the parliamentarian rulings but does not discuss them in detail. "The House parliamentarian concluded that you get one bite at the apple," Reinsch said, "in the sense that the bill was submitted and that was the bite—there wasn't a vote—and that it wouldn't be eligible for the second time around." He noted that the House has the option of using a "closed rule," set by the Rules Committee, disallowing amendments and substitutes, which obviates the need for TPA authority in that body. This is not the case in the Senate as it does not have a rules panel that attaches rules to legislation. The Senate parliamentarian was asked the same question privately and advised that TPA was still in effect, Reinsch said, adding, "My guess is that it will get worked out."