Washington (CNN) – Despite a nudge from President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address for Congress to renew fast-track trade authority, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday he is unlikely to consider a bill anytime soon.
“I’m against fast-track,” said the powerful Democrat who controls which bills get to the Senate floor. “I think everyone would be well-advised not to push this right now.”
While Reid personally opposes the measure, he did not rule out allowing it to come up in the future.
At issue is a bipartisan bill to extend the President’s “trade promotion authority (TPA),” which lets him negotiate giant trade deals with other nations while allowing Congress only to vote up or down on those deals but not amend them. Most Republicans and big business groups support the bill, believing it will lead to more trade agreements and open more markets for U.S. goods. But many Democrats and union groups oppose it, arguing past trade deals led to job losses.
The U.S. currently has several outstanding trade pacts – including a major deal with the European Union and another with 11 Asian nations. For countries negotiating with the U.S., TPA is seen as the best way to assure a hard-earned agreement will become law without getting picked apart by special interests represented in Congress.
“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,’” Obama told Congress Tuesday night.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, one of the bipartisan authors of the bill, complained the President didn’t do enough to persuade Democrats to support the measure.
“I’ve been underwhelmed at this administration’s support of our bill and extremely disappointed with the efforts they’ve made to get Democrats in Congress on board,” Hatch said Wednesday at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event. “In last night’s State of the Union address, the President barely mentioned his trade agenda. He certainly didn’t call on members of his own party to set aside their differences and support renewing TPA.”
The bill is a priority of Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, a centrist Democrat who chairs the Finance Committee.
Baucus, who was recently tapped to be the ambassador to China, is expected to leave Congress soon, leaving uncertain the fate of trade bill.
After the resounding success of NAFTA-I can see holding up on any trade deal.
The Media and the dems constantly harp on the "obstructionist, Partisan, do nothing Republicans in the House" but here you have the most Partisan Obstructionist do nothing person in the federal Government. Consider this from the article:
"Despite a nudge from President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address for Congress to renew fast-track trade authority, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday he is unlikely to consider a bill anytime soon."
CNN calls it a " nudge from President Barack Obama", but if President Obama truly wanted "fast-track" the all powerful Harry Reid would allow a bill to get to the floor and it would probably pass. So once again CNN obfuscates, dodges and glosses over the real story.
fast track free trade deals only benefit the very rich and is killing middle class america
Harry Reid deserves a medal! I didn't like him that much before, but I've come around. Go Reid Go!
Harry is concerned about keeping control of the Senate. Obama believes he has bigger fish to fry. So long as divided government is with us very little is going to get through Congress.
He has a funny name.
Haven't been paying attention to the two ring circus you call the gop?
There are some things out there that I don't understand how they pass the constitutional sniff test. This TPA is one. School vouchers is another.
I usually don't agree with Mr. Reid. But it's nice to see a powerful liberal Democrat who doesn't bend over for Obama.
These trade deals have been the biggest reason for the fall of the middle class. Somebody needs to put an end to them.
If the republicans are for it it cannot be good for average Americans.