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October 21, 2011

Obama can't get his jobs package, but he does sign 3 trade bills

With little fanfare, President Obama today signed into law trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. The president inked the deals in the Oval Office in a signing that lasted about 15 minutes. 

The White House says the trade deals will "significantly boost American exports, support tens of thousands of American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property." 

Congress passed the trio of trade deals last Wednesday, ending a years-long impasse and, the White House says, "handing President Obama an impressive legislative victory just in time for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's state visit."

The deals mark one area of agreement between the president and Republicans -- even though a number of Democrats opposed the bills.

The majority of the House Democratic caucus voted against the trade deals, the agreement with Colombia drawing the most noes -- 158 -- including one from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The signing came just hours after a piece of Obama's stalled $447 billion jobs package collapsed in the Senate by a 50 to 50 vote. Obama, who spent the past week on the road pushing for Congress to pass part of the bill, called the vote "unacceptable" and vowed to keep up the pressure.

"Our fight isn’t over," Obama said. "We will keep working with Congress to bring up the American Jobs Act piece by piece, and give Republicans another chance to put country before party and help us put the American people back to work."


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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