Tuesday, April 15, 2008
President Bush said yesterday that a trade agreement with Colombia is "dead" unless House Democrats agree to hold a vote on the pact, effectively admitting defeat on a White House priority.
After meeting with his Cabinet, Bush lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for putting off a vote on the free-trade pact, which the administration views as important for U.S. national security and the economy. "This free-trade agreement is in our national interests," Bush said. "Yet that bill is dead unless the speaker schedules a definite vote."
Pelosi fired back by accusing Bush of being "out of touch" with the "concerns of America's working families." She said the House will take no action on the Colombia pact until it considers other legislation aimed at aiding the U.S. economy.
The standoff over Colombia began last week, after Bush submitted the trade agreement to Congress and urged lawmakers to approve it within the normal deadline of 90 legislative days. Democrats, who say the pact does not provide enough protections for workers, then voted to postpone the decision indefinitely.
As yesterday's exchange indicated, any further action on the trade deal appears unlikely for the remainder of Bush's term. The president has sought to make free trade a signature policy of his administration.
-- Dan Eggen