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The Hill: "Kirk: Trade guru, golf partner"

Kevin Bogardus of the Hill profiled Ambassador Kirk today.  Read excerpts of the article below and the full article here.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is in for a very busy summer as the Obama administration’s top trade official.

The trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that he has been working on for more than two years are finally close to being submitted to Capitol Hill for approval, with floor votes expected possibly in July.

But before those agreements are sent to Congress, the White House has demanded the approval of the expanded version of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. Some GOP lawmakers have balked at that request due to concerns about the deficit.

“I just think it would be a huge missed opportunity for us, as a country, to not reap the economic benefits and the job-creating potential of these three free-trade agreements, frankly, over partisan politics,” Kirk told The Hill.

Kirk said that while it’s important to open up new markets for American goods and services, it’s also important to make sure workers aren’t left behind. He said TAA funds are critical for job training programs and healthcare benefits for people who are affected by trade.

“We think our trade policy has to reflect our core values,” Kirk said. “Core to our values … is this commitment to workers who, for whatever reason, come out on the losing side of trade.”