Midterm pressures weigh on 'Three Amigos' summit
February 18th, 2014
07:22 PM ET
9 years ago

Midterm pressures weigh on 'Three Amigos' summit

Toluca, Mexico (CNN) - Midterm election pressures are likely to follow President Barack Obama to Mexico where he’ll meet his North American counterparts on issues that have caused headaches for Democrats, from the Keystone pipeline to immigration reform to trade.

Obama is scheduled to meet Wednesday with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the North American Leaders’ Summit.

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The “Three Amigos,” as the trio of leaders have been dubbed, are expected to spend much of their time discussing efforts to broker a new trade agreement with Pacific nations.

Obama has called for “fast-track” trade authority from Congress for him to pursue the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive free-trade zone.

But members of his own party, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have both voiced firm opposition to such authority.

Republicans seized on Vice President Joe Biden’s reported comments at last week’s House Democratic retreat in Maryland. There, he was heard conceding the trade issue was quickly becoming a source of frustration within the party, especially among labor groups that are key to midterms next fall.

“The jobs they seem to care about most are Democrats in Congress-not families across the country eager to join the ranks of the employed,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

Senior Obama administration officials played down reports about Biden’s comments as coming from “second-hand accounts.” But they added the White House remains firmly committed to its trade agenda.

“It would not be in the interest of the United States to put this on the back burner,” one official said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney insists that differences among Democrats over trade issues date back several administrations.

“The differing opinions on these matters are not new, and the fact that there are differing opinions within both parties is not new,” Carney said Tuesday.

Another area of potential friendly disagreement for the “Three Amigos” is over the administration’s handling of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Canadian officials have grown impatient with the lengthy approval process in the United States for the contested project, which would transport oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.

While a recent State Department environmental impact study appeared to brighten prospects for approval, senior administration officials indicated Prime Minister Harper is not likely to receive the news many in his nation want to hear during the summit.

“I think what President Obama will do is explain to him where we are in the review of the Keystone pipeline, and indicate that we’ll, of course, let our Canadian friends know when we’ve arrived at a decision,” a senior administration official said.

The Keystone project has also divided Democrats, namely environmentalists who see the pipeline as a symbolic battle in the larger fight over efforts to deal with climate change.

While in Mexico, Obama will face another delicate balancing act over the issue of immigration reform.

The plight of the undocumented in the United States, notably the substantial number of migrants who crossed the border from Mexico, is a major political issue south of the Rio Grande.

Latino special interest groups, a core Democratic Party constituency, have criticized the administration for its aggressive deportation policy as it struggles to find a long-term solution to the immigration issue.

Senior administration officials told reporters last week that Obama remains committed to comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.

But that legislative priority has hit a roadblock in Congress where Republican leaders have indicated there is little hope for such a breakthrough this year before the midterms.

Obama, administration officials argue, is under no pressure to spell out that political reality at the summit, which is to take place in Toluca, Nieto’s home town.

“With respect to immigration, I think President Peña Nieto has a very good understanding, frankly, of the state of play in the United States,” a senior administration official said.

Filed under: 2014 • Mexico • President Obama
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. it must be said

    They are having this in MEXICO?!! Is Obama and the others aware that the Obama administration sent thousands of illegal assault weapons into Mexico to the drug cartels without the knowledge or consent of the Mexican government? Hundreds of Mexicans have been killed with them and even American Border Patrol agents have been killed. Hopefully those weapons don't also make an appearance at this meeting. How ironic would THAT be?!!

    February 18, 2014 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Obama needs to tell the Canadian Prime Minister to stick the Keystone Pipeline where the sun don't shine. The far left environmentalists control the Democrat Party and will never allow it no matter how bad people need the jobs. Besides, our friend China needs the oil more than we do.

    February 18, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  3. jed clampett

    If Canada wants a pipeline let them build it over to Lake Superior.

    February 18, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  4. Smitty

    Lets count the ways Obamma has failed, not enough #s !!!! More lies im sure from the BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR

    February 18, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. Bill from GA

    You know these three are working on the plan to join the three countries as the North American Union, modeled after the European Union.

    It's the only solution to our immigration issue. Open borders to the bottom of Mexico
    Pardon me. NAU South!

    February 18, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  6. Harold Read

    Wonder how many more millions of US tax dollars will go to educate Mexican citizens on how to get food stamps after they cross and settle into the US ILLEGALLY...

    February 18, 2014 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  7. tim barnett

    To the Mexican leader,"keep your people home and take care of them so they don't think they need to illegally come to America. To the Canadian leader, "what is in it for America to ship your oil across our land, and what will you do when environmental disaster occures?"

    February 18, 2014 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  8. badtobone

    Ok I'm lost. It said president has deported. Illegal s yet I've worked in law enforcement for the 30plus yrs. To this day we arrest people for a crime after they are to end their jail time as required by law we notify ice to report them. Ice will state.they don't have time to pick them up. We have said we would meet them ice will say no turn them lose and will pick them up later.
    I have arrested the same people for different crimes and they have not been deported yet.

    February 19, 2014 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  9. J.V.Hodgson

    Why are you castigating this skyle

    February 19, 2014 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  10. Lianee Laff

    Why aren't you helping find Harry Devert???? This meeting is about immigration and people crossing the border. What about OUR people crossing the border and NEVER coming back?? FIND HIM!

    February 19, 2014 02:58 am at 2:58 am |