Senate Republicans push Obama on Colombia, Panama trade deals
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday urged President Obama to act on pending trade deals with Panama and Colombia, charging that the president "needs to do more than promise to 'pursue' these agreements" as he did in his remarks earlier Monday to national business leaders.
In a floor speech after Obama's address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, McConnell pressed the president to submit the two deals to Congress for ratification, arguing that "the time for delay on these two agreements is over."
"It won't be enough for Republicans and it shouldn't be enough for the business community to allow the administration's trade agenda to start and end with South Korea," McConnell said. "We should be passing all pending trade agreements and inking new ones on a bipartisan basis -- even when it requires the President bringing his own party along."
Earlier Monday, McConnell and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) penned a letter to Obama pushing him to submit the two deals for ratification, warning that "further delay for these agreements means lost market share for U.S. exports in Colombia and Panama."
In his remarks to the chamber as well as in his State of the Union address last month, Obama cited the recently finalized South Korea pact as a model for other trade agreements, such as the pending deals with Panama and Colombia.
But Obama has yet to provide a timeline for the those deals amid resistance from labor groups and many Democrats who have expressed concerns over Panama's labor and tax-haven laws and continued anti-union violence in Colombia.
In his floor remarks, McConnell pointed to expressions of support for the Colombia deal by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, charging that it's "not enough for the president to say good things about free trade while siding with labor bosses over job creators and the vast majority of American workers who do not belong to unions and who would largely benefit from opening markets overseas."
| February 7, 2011; 4:19 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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