Jun 30, 2011 3:40 PM by Matt Stafford

Senate GOP blocks hearing on free trade bills

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Republicans have blocked a hearing on three trade bills because they don't want to link the deals to an extension of a program that retrains workers hurt by foreign trade.

Thursday's hearing was set for Senate Finance Committee. At issue were long-stalled trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

There's bipartisan support for the agreements. But Republicans object to demands by the White House and Democrats that Congress also renew assistance for displaced workers.

Republicans on the committee tell President Barack Obama that they won't go along with including the retraining program in the trade package.

They're using a procedural tactic on the Senate floor to hold up the hearing.


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