Pelosi and Rangel Statement on Administration Sending Colombia Free Trade Agreement to Congress

Apr 07, 2008, 01:00 ET from Office of the Speaker of the House

    WASHINGTON, April 7, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy
 Pelosi and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel issued
 the following statement today on the announcement by President Bush that he
 will send the Colombia Free Trade Agreement to Congress tomorrow:
     "President Bush's statement today regarding his unprecedented decision
 to send a free trade agreement to Congress without following established
 protocols of Congressional consultation is counter-productive, jeopardizing
 prospects for its passage. Under present circumstances, we cannot support
 the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
     "A successful trade agenda depends on a joint partnership between the
 Congress and the Administration, where consultation is the norm, not the
 exception. Constitutionally, Congress is responsible for regulating
 international commerce. The President's disregard toward a co-equal branch
 of government serves only to work against the long-term interests of the
 United States and Colombia.
     "The President's apparent disregard for the economic insecurity faced
 by millions of struggling American families highlights a misplaced set of
 priorities. Due to Republican intransigence, trade adjustment assistance to
 those who have lost their jobs due to trade lapsed last year and
 Republicans have blocked efforts to extend and expand these initiatives
 this year. Similarly, Democratic efforts to extend unemployment benefits,
 help those threatened by foreclosure, and strengthen health care for
 America's children have been rebuffed by President Bush.
     "When congressional leaders meet with the President on Wednesday, we
 will urge him to focus on the economy and work in a bipartisan manner on a
 new stimulus package to help America's working families. We must work
 together to restore consumer, market, and worker confidence.
     "House Democrats are committed to supporting Colombia and the efforts
 of President Uribe. We have twice passed the Andean Trade Preference
 Extension Act, providing economic development alternatives to illicit
 narcotics production and trafficking to create a more stable environment in
 Colombia. We have provided additional funds to support Colombia's efforts
 to strengthen its judicial system and stem violence against labor leaders.
 President Bush's efforts to create a false sense of urgency have no merit
 and ultimately ignore these valuable contributions to democracy in
     "Despite progress made by President Uribe, Colombia remains a dangerous
 place to be a labor activist, and for those who commit these acts of
 violence, there is little threat of prosecution or punishment. Sustained
 progress on the ground remains a prerequisite for our support."

SOURCE Office of the Speaker of the House