According to the New York Times, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will change its rules so as to block the requirement of a vote on the free trade agreement with Colombia.
Pelosi says the House will vote on the rules change policy Thursday, effectively putting off a vote on a free trade agreement that is a key priority of the Bush administration.
”The president took his action. I will take mine tomorrow,” Pelosi said.
If she succeeds, the Colombian Unfair Trade Agreement is dead for now.
More, after the fold.
Alos in Orange:
This is a bad agreement.
Senators Obama and Clinton oppose it.
Sen. Barack Obama said Bush is “absolutely wrong” to support the deal, adding that the Colombian government was suspected of “potentially having supported violence against unions, against labor, against opposition.”
Sen. Hillary Clinton said “We’ve got to have new trade policies before we have new trade deals. That includes no trade deal with Colombia while violence against trade unionists continues in that country.”
Speaker Pelosi opposes it.
From Greg Tarpinian, Executive Director, Change to Win
We’ve seen the results that “free” trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA have had on our country — jobs lost, communities devastated, families without a chance to achieve the American Dream.
But this new proposal rewards a government that has done nothing to protect its workers from those who would use violence to violate their rights.
The Colombia “free” trade agreement is a bad deal for American and Colombian workers alike.
American workers want fair trade policies, not more of the same job-killing agreements we have seen in the past. But while the labor chapter of the Colombia FTA is an improvement, it is unenforceable, and the rest is modeled off the same flawed language found in NAFTA and CAFTA — agreements which resulted in major job losses here at home, environmental degradation and the decimation of family farmers in other countries, and increased immigration to the U.S.
Colombian workers want the freedom to exercise their right to form a union — a basic, internationally recognized human right– without fear of violent reprisal. But Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world to be a union activist, and the government there has shown little interest in stepping in toprotect workers. All but a handful of the perpetrators of these murders have gone free. That is simply unacceptable.
THe AFL-CIO also opposes it. From AFL-CIO President John Sweeney:
President Bush’s decision to send the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to Congress over the strong objections of the leadership of both the House and the Senate “shows an outrageous disregard for basic human and workers’ rights,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says.
In a statement, Sweeney says:
Workers in Colombia are terrorized every day for standing up for their economic freedom, and union supporters are routinely murdered. Our government should not reward the Colombian government for such callous indifference to the rights and lives of Colombian workers.
The AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Colombia in opposition to violence against trade unionists. We stand for the rights of workers in both Colombia and the United States to organize and bargain collectively without fear of firing, retribution or bodily harm. The AFL-CIO is strongly opposed to the Colombia FTA and will mobilize with all of our might to defeat it.
Tell Speaker Pelosi Thanks for sicking up for Colombian and American workers!!
I’ll update with more details as they come available.
Update I: More:
Pelosi, at a news conference, said that if legislation approving the trade deal were taken up now, it would be defeated, “and what message would that send” to the Colombian people?
She denied that the rule change doomed action on the agreement this year, saying that “depends on the good faith in which we conduct these negotiations.”
The administration has been talking to Democrats about ways to help American workers. The House last year passed legislation to expand the Trade Adjustment Assistance program that provides financial aid and training to people who lose jobs as a result of trade, but the White House threatened a presidential veto and the Senate never took it up.
Pelosi insisted that the House’s right to determine its own procedures overrides any requirements that Congress take up a measure within a prescribed time period.
She said she is interested in taking up the agreement in an atmosphere that is “as unemotional as possible,” but “that is not possible if the president of the United States is going to usurp the discretion of the speaker of the House to bring” legislation to the floor.
Update II: More details:
The vote on Thursday would change rules for considering the deal by eliminating a 90-day deadline for Congress to approve the Colombia trade deal.