Senator Baucus on House Colombia Move

By April 9, 2008Trade

The cable news outlets gave short shrift to the Cabinet secretaries’ news conference, so for the moment…

From CQ Politics, quoting Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT):

This decision by the House on the Colombia trade agreement is not at all surprising, given the president’s unprecedented effort to force Congress into a vote…Congress and the White House are going to need to take a step back from the brink, focus on renewing an agreement on Trade Adjustment Assistance for American workers, and then consider the Colombia deal on its merits.

A comment that suggests maneuvering on TAA, as presaged in this Christian Science Monitor piece from the morning:

[In] the back halls of Congress, the real debate is, and should be, over how much to help workers who lose jobs after government lifts trade protection in certain US industries. The current program, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, is underfunded and not well focused to keep up with the rapid shift to a higher-skilled economy. More money is needed to retrain such workers for new types of jobs. Congress also must provide a higher tax credit for healthcare coverage during these workers’ transitions.

Theory: The demands for environmental and labor provisions used to serve as the same sort of bargaining chip. Once the Administration gave those concessions, something new had to be invented to serve as a similar lever to gain advantage in TAA bargaining. It’s timelines, now.

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