Kerry, Hagel rebuke Reid on fast-track trade bill
February 1st, 2014
03:45 PM ET
9 years ago

Kerry, Hagel rebuke Reid on fast-track trade bill

(CNN) - Even old friends have occasional disagreements.

In a rare joint appearance at the Munich Security Conference, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel dismissed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's opposition to renewing fast-track trade authority and predicted that the bill will ultimately pass in spite of Reid's opposition.

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"I've heard plenty of statements in the Senate on one day that are categorical, and we've wound up finding accommodations and a way to find our way forward," Kerry told the audience of European allies.

"I respect Harry Reid, worked with him for a long time," Kerry said. "I think all of us have learned to interpret a comment on one day in the United States Senate as not necessarily what might be the situation in a matter of months."

Reid said Wednesday he is unlikely to consider a bill on the issue anytime soon.

"I’m against fast track," said Reid, who controls which bills get to the Senate floor. "I think everyone would be well-advised not to push this right now."

With several outstanding trade pacts - including a major deal with the European Union - securing President Barack Obama's "trade promotion authority" remains a priority for the administration. The power would limit Congress' ability to influence American trade policy, only allowing them up or down votes on massive trade deals while leaving negotiations with other nations entirely under the purvey of the President. Proponents of the measure say the TPA prevents crucial trade agreements from getting bogged down in the bureaucratic slog and would help open new markets for U.S. goods. Democrats oppose the measure, arguing past trade deals led companies to ship jobs overseas.

Heralding the ability as something that could "have a profound impact" on the American economy, Kerry said the extension of President Obama's authority could pay dividends and help further drive down the unemployment rate.

"It's worth millions of jobs," he said.

Kerry also was emphatic that Reid's opposition would not stall progress.

"I wouldn't let it deter us one iota, not one iota," he said.

Hagel echoed his counterpart's tone on the issue, saying that Reid's decision to put the bill on hold was imprudent.

"Let's be smart and let's be wise and let's be collaborative and use all of the opportunities and mechanisms that we have to enhance each other - culturally, trade, commerce, exchanges," Hagel said.

CNN Senior Congressional Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

Filed under: Chuck Hagel • European Union • Harry Reid • John Kerry • Trade
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Clinton / Kerry 2016
    They have the experience !

    And for those who bring up Benghazi , fast and furious , IRS , Whitewater , and Jimmy Hoffa .

    Repeat after me , GW BUSH<GW BUSH<GW BUSH , say it three times real fast and click your heels together .

    February 1, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. Pete

    After Hagels book came out why would Kerry ,anyone associated with Pres.Obama want to talk to that typical back stabbing republican..Pres.Obama trusted,liked him personally and he threw the president under the bus..So much for using Bushs comrades in Pres.Obamas administration..Get rid of all Bushs people because Hagel,rest were for war and the lies that created them!!

    February 1, 2014 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  3. timverba

    Can someone explain to me what "fast-track" means? I understand that Senator Reid states that the trade bill will not be brought up anytime soon. But the time frame that Secretary Kerry references is a few months. Months to read a few pages does not seem very fast to me. I should hope that the concept of a fast-track trade bill would fulfill specific prerequisites that have been established for American foreign policy (i.e. strengthens human rights; protects American labor; opens markets to America industry). Therefore, a senator could quickly judge with a yay or nay vote.

    February 1, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  4. Rob

    Of course Reid is against it. The unions don't like it and Reid is owned by the unions like ever other Democrat. Even Obama

    February 2, 2014 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  5. Harold Read

    You are irrelevant, Reid! As all of Congress will be irrelevant.
    Obama has Executive Power and he WILL use it.
    Viva El Obama! The Banana States Of America stands with you El Presidente! Viva El Obama!

    February 2, 2014 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  6. Marie MD

    If could have been worse he could have had the envious CA car thief who is jealous that Kerry has more money than he does (because he married it) and even has a yacht which I take it he doesn't.

    February 2, 2014 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  7. TNPatriot

    As much as I detest the policy in both houses of congress where Reid and Boehner have total control over what bills are allowed to be voted on, I agree that this TPA is a bad deal for the citizens of the United States. These trade pacts, dating back to Nixon have done little good for the US and are a major cause for the demise of the American Middle Class.

    February 2, 2014 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  8. yolanda

    Harry"s getting pimp slapped by the big dogs.

    February 2, 2014 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. don in albuquerque

    Rebuke Reid all you want too boys. After NAFTA we need to examine ANY trade deals very closely.

    February 2, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. Thomas

    @don in albuquerque
    Rebuke Reid all you want too boys. After NAFTA we need to examine ANY trade deals very closely.

    Real closely !

    February 2, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. Ron L.

    This FAST TRACKING is bad on these Trade deals because they are in direct conflict with Americans having an understanding what is inside these bills and their impact on "working Americans". For those of you who do not understand what Fast Tracking is, a brief explanation: the government and leaders of industry negotiate in secret with other countries on trade rules between the two, three, etc. countries. Once this "deal" is finalized it is brought before the Congress for a vote. The Congress is not allowed to discus the bill with the public, nor are they allowed to modify it. They either accept it or reject it. If I am not mistaken this is how NAFTA was passed. As a person who supported NAFTA in the beginning and then seeing what it actually did to the American work force I am against passing the TPA (Trans-Pacific Accord) without disclosure to the American public before passage, because there is a very real probability that it could lead to another 20 year stagnation of American wages. We have corporations in America were CEO's are rewarded for profits they accrue over the short-term not what it does to America in the long run. They will outsource any and every job that they foresee a short term profit. When you have a country like America that has evolved into a middle classed based society that requires a wage of about $10.00 a hour to survive and open trade with a country in which people can survive on $1.50 a hour, there has to be REAL, FIRM checks and balances in place otherwise CEO's in America WILL outsource any and everything they can regardless of the economic damage it will release on an American region or city. I'm not proposing protectionism but instead practical expansion where both sides WIN!!
    The one thing that really frustrates me about this CNN Political Ticker is it does not cover these types of issues with more detail. For instance a FARM BILL just passed and there was little coverage about the details. Yes it reduced the SNAP program by 9 billion dollars over 10 years, but it did not stop the government from protecting farmers from losing money from a bad crop year by sending them checks and subsidizing the insurance they give them. In fact they originally added a new rule stating all members of Congress that receive money from the 'sweet heart" deal had to make it public. This was eliminated during the next round of negotiations between the House and the Senate.
    It would be nice if the 4th estate (news media) would step up to the plate and actually give us more detail about what is happening today or in the near future instead of poll results about possible elections 12 to 36 months away. If we got more detail it could lead to more participation by the electorate. Which this country could sorely use....

    February 2, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |