Blow to Obama as Sen. Reid Opposes Trade Authority

TRADE, 3 Feb 2014

The Wall Street Journal – TRANSCEND Media Service

The Senate’s top Democrat on Wednesday [29 Jan 2014] threw up a roadblock to a business-backed trade bill promoted less than 24 hours earlier by President Barack Obama.

“I’m against fast track,” Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters about so-called trade promotion authority legislation. The proposal would ensure an up-or-down vote, speeding up the passage of trade deals.

Obama asked Congress to pass the bill in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. Businesses including manufacturers have pressed hard for the legislation, saying it will help them expand into new markets.

Addressing lawmakers Tuesday night, Obama said: “We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped ‘Made in the USA.’ China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines. Neither should we.”

Reid’s comments shouldn’t come as a surprise to the White House, from what he told reporters.

“Everyone knows how I feel about this,” Reid said. “[Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max] Baucus knows. [Sen. Ron] Wyden knows. The White House knows. Everyone would be well-advised not to push this right now.”

Democrats and labor have been stepping up opposition to lowering trade barriers. Democrat Reps. Rosa DeLauro and George Miller earlier this month wrote to Obama saying they’d lined up 151 House Democrats in opposition to fast-track procedures “that usurp Congress’ authority over trade matters.” And AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the labor organization opposes fast track “in the strongest of terms.” The organization says fast track would kill American jobs instead of creating them.

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