President Bush’s reaction to the House abdication on its responsibilities on the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is unusually tough. It’s worth reading in its entirety.
Today’s unprecedented and unfortunate action by the House of Representatives – led by Speaker Pelosi – to change the rules governing legislation to implement our trade agreement with Colombia is damaging to our economy, our national security, and our relations with an important ally. It also undermines the trust required for any Administration to negotiate trade agreements in the future.
By lowering tariffs for products made in America and sold in Colombia, this trade agreement would level the playing field for American workers and provide a boost for our economy at a vital time. Rather than supporting the opening of markets for our farmers and manufacturers, Democratic congressional leaders instead listened to narrow special interests and followed an isolationist path.
Today’s action by the House of Representatives also sends a damaging message to the world that Congress cannot be counted on to keep its promises. Colombia is one of our strongest allies in the Western Hemisphere. Colombia’s leaders are showing courage in improving the safety of their citizens while battling narco-terrorists that receive support from anti-American forces outside Colombia. The message Democrats sent today is that no matter how steadfastly you stand with us, we will turn our backs on you when it is politically convenient.
In addition, by changing the rules for how it considers legislation to implement trade agreements, the House has severed a bond of trust between the executive branch and the Congress, and with our trading partners, that has served our Nation well for decades. In order to negotiate trade agreements, we empower our trade representatives with the promise that Congress will consider trade agreements with a timely up-or-down vote. By breaking this bond, Democrats have undercut not just this Administration, but future Administrations as well. This will weaken our Nation’s ability to negotiate fair trade agreements for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and service providers.
During the 16 months since the Colombia free trade agreement was signed, my Administration has gone above and beyond any reasonable effort to achieve a bipartisan path for considering this agreement. At the expense of our economy and our national security, the House has instead chosen to take a short-sighted and partisan path.
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