WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. trade official says he's "dumbfounded" and "shell-shocked" by Senate Republicans who refused to participate in hearings on three trade agreements the party largely supports.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk says he was caught by surprise when Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee boycotted Thursday's hearing where the deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama were to be discussed.
Kirk says in an Associated Press interview that Republicans have told him for months that they would vote for the agreements if the Obama administration sent them to Congress.
Republicans are objecting to Democrats' decision to link the trade deals to the renewal of a program that retrains American workers hurt by foreign trade.
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