Congress set for votes on trade bills next week

By JIM ABRAMS | October 6, 2011 | 8:05 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is set to approve free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama next week.

The House Rules Committee has voted on procedures for taking up the long-delayed agreements, the last step before they go to the House floor.

The House is expected to begin the debate on the three bills, along with legislation to help workers displaced by foreign competition, next Tuesday, and finish action by as early as Wednesday. The measures are expected to pass by comfortable margins.

The Senate Finance Committee takes up the trade bills on Tuesday, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would vote on the bills on Wednesday.

The trade bills were signed during the last Bush administration, but the Obama administration held them up for further negotiations.