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Election Baggage Postpones Colombia Trade Agreement

Congress just denied President Bush by voting to delay consideration of the controversial trade agreement with Colombia until after the November election.

President Bush wanted Congress to approve a not-too-expansive trade pact with Colombia. But, this being an election year, a simple trade issue has become a vehicle for back and forth about jobs, the economy, and national security. The agreement was also problematic for the Democratic presidential candidates, who rely on the support of organized labor and large corporations.

OK here's how all the major players played it:

Pelosi: The Speaker of the House preempted Bush's plan to force a vote, by unilaterally (and legally) changing the rules of the House. The existing rules required the House to vote on a bill submitted by the president within 90 days. But, Pelosi played her cards, saying that she would not allow a vote until the president agreed to increased economic aide for Americans. So today, the House voted to delay.

Condi Rice: The secretary of state played the national security card on this one. She said that it is imperative to relations with US ally Colombia, and other US interests in South America, that the bill be approved immediately. Oh, well.

To find out where the presidential candidates, an ex prez, and other high-profile surrogates stood on the deal,


The Wannabes: McCain was with Bush on this one, and favored the agreement. Obama and Clinton — not so much.

Penn-gate: Hillary's top adviser Mark Penn was fired from her campaign on Sunday, because he was advising Colombia on ways to push the agreement Hillary opposes. Oops.

Bubba: Unfortunately Hillary can't fire her hubby for disagreeing with her. Bill was with Bush on this one, and favored the agreement with Colombia.

Democrats do not intend on killing the pact, just delay its approval. Do you think it's better to consider the agreement when all the baggage of the election has gone away?


Join The Conversation
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
"Sorry to go on and on...but this is really, really important. It is so much bigger than's just not a game...and unfortunately it's being played as one" That is the most unfortunate thing about politics sometimes, especially in a system divided by blind hate, like what we have.
jvpdc jvpdc 9 years
Jillness - those are the basic facts of the agreement...removing tarrifs we now pay, and making permanent their tarrif free status with us (which dems have supported in the past.) This agreement was unique in that it had such important national security implications, as well as economic ones. Colombia has made huge strides in their efforts to confront crime, drugs, and terrorism. They still have more to do, but their progress has been amazing. Sadly, the Dems really didn't address the basics of this agreement when they decided to postpone it indefinitely. They're mad at the President - so they took it out on this agreement. But this agreement means a lot to a lot of people - workers here, workers there, their democratically elected government fighting against terrorists who want to bring back the drug trade in place of free and open commerce. Hugo Chavez says we don't care about the people of South America. We do, but what happened yesterday plays into his hand. And as for rushed through, this agreement has been closed (except for making changes the dems wanted on labor provisions) for almost 2 there has been plenty of time to review it. This has been anything but rushed. UnDave - not sure what you're referring to about the Clinton stake in the agreement? If she had a huge share in a company like Catepillar that stands to gain financially from easier access to the Colombian market, maybe that would be a conflict...but not sure that would qualify. She opposes it anyway because big labor tells her to! Sorry to go on and on...but this is really, really important. It is so much bigger than's just not a game...and unfortunately it's being played as one.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I agree that it shouldn't be rushed through. My question regarding Clinton is although she opposes this trade agreement, she has a stake in the agreement, meaning she stands to gain financially. Is this a conflict of interest to be voting on something that you have a financial stake in?
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
AMEN jvpdc!!! my fellow Washingtonian :cheer:
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I don't think that you can say the trade agreement was that simple. Red flags should be raised when global economics are portrayed as that simple. Do you really think it is a good idea to rush a trade agreement through, when we already know that NAFTA should have been reviewed a bit more before we passed it? It is called learning a lesson from past mistakes.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Thanks for clueing me in about this jv. I wasn't aware about what the trade agreement was about
jvpdc jvpdc 9 years
This agreement was such a no-brainer - removes all tarrifs for US goods going to colombia (all their goods come into the US tarrif free already) and helps a democratic ally who is standing up to Hugo Chavez. The Dems don't like it and don't want it but they don't have the courage of their convictions to vote it down. Instead they postpone it indefinitely. Don't be fooled by their pledge to remove politics from the debate - this debate was ALL politics. They didn't think about anything else. Sad day.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
The only conflict Hillary has about pushing this deal is whether she wants her kickback in dollars or euros.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Hmmmm do I see a conflict of interest for her now?
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Being that there is so much in NAFTA that was "unforseen", don't you think we should go over future trade agreements with a fine tooth comb to make sure it doesn't repeat itself? Bill Clinton received $800,000 to give speeches promoting this agreement in Columbia. I wonder if Hillary feels caught in the middle of a tug of war.
stephley stephley 9 years
Colombia should probably use the extra time to read the fine print on the treaty.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
God forbid we delay one second on moving our factories to Colombia!
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