Senate Republicans clear way for worker aid bill

July 22, 2011 - 1:15 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A dozen Senate Republicans say they have cleared the way for passage of legislation to help displaced workers, possibly removing the main stumbling block to congressional action on pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.

The Obama administration supports the trade deals, but says they must be linked to extension of expired sections of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. The GOP senators said they can assure passage of the worker aid bill.

Their support, while welcomed by the administration, may be too late for Congress to act on the aid and trade bills this summer. Congress is scheduled to leave for its summer recess on Aug. 6, and is likely to be preoccupied until then in resolving the crisis over raising the debt ceiling.