Senate Deal on Worker Aid Opens Way for Trade Vote

By JIM ABRAMS | August 4, 2011 | 3:14 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate deal on extending some Obama stimulus aid for workers whose jobs move overseas could break a political logjam blocking free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell said late Wednesday they had agreed on a course where the Senate, when it returns from its summer break, would vote on the worker aid bill and then on the three trade agreements.

House Speaker John Boehner also said the House would vote on the worker aid legislation in tandem with votes on the trade agreements pending since the Bush administration.

The White House supports the trade pacts, but says congressional votes on them must be accompanied by renewal of the worker aid provisions that expired last February.