Pilot Light: Lawmakers Divided on Trade Pacts
Free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia passed both chambers of Congress Wednesday on a strong bipartisan vote.
However, North Carolina’s congressional delegation split votes, but not necessarily along party lines.
Sixth District Congress- man Howard Coble voted in favor of agreements with Panama and Colombia but against the agreement with Korea.
In the neighboring 8th District, Congressman Larry Kissell voted against all three agreements. Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, of the 2nd District, voted with Coble, in favor of the Panama and Colombia agreements but against the agreement with Korea. (If proposed redistricting maps are given final approval, Moore County will be part of the 2nd District effective 2013.)
Coble and Kissell are co-chairmen of the House Textile Caucus. Coble and Ellmers are Republicans, and Kissell is a Democrat.
SENATE — U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan canceled each other’s votes.
Burr voted in favor of all three bills, and Hagan voted against all three. Burr is a Republican, Hagan a Democrat.
“While I understand that there are arguments to be made both for and against these agreements, North Carolina workers and their jobs are my top concern,” Hagan said in a news release. “Our state has suffered more than most from unfair trading practices for years, and I am tired of shipping good North Carolina jobs — in industries like textiles and furniture — overseas to countries that don’t play by the same rules.”
COBLE — Coble said the agreement with South Korea would “provide instant, duty-free access for virtually all textile and apparel products, while giving U.S. producers no time to adjust.”
He added that the bill has a number of non-reciprocal tariff phase-outs that favor South Korean textile products.
Coble said he was more comfortable with the agreements with Colombia and Panama because the two countries are “strategic diplomatic partners in Central and South America.”
PREVENTION — Oct. 9-15 is Fire Prevention Week. The county commissioners adopted the proclamation at their Oct. 4 meeting.
Fire Marshal Kenneth Skipper said local fire departments are providing programs and educational activities promoting fire prevention this week.
The observance, which dates to 1920, was first proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson.
The proclamation says home fires killed more than 2,500 people in the United States in 2009, according to the latest research by the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association. The association also reported that fire departments responded to more than 360,000 home fires across the country that year.
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