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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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April 9, 2008 3:15 PM

Reichert pushes for vote on Colombia trade deal

Posted by David Postman

Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation want Democrats to join them in protesting Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s move to put off a vote on a Colombia free trade agreement.

A letter to Pelosi was circulated among the delegation by Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, just back from a weekend trip to Colombia. Republicans Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Doc Hastings signed the letter that says:

Free trade is critical to our state’s economy and workers. We represent the most trade-dependent state in the nation. … Delaying free trade agreements signals to our allies that America is closed for trade, and encourages our rivals to exploit new markets. This is unequivocally the wrong message to send in this time of economic uncertainty.
No Democrats have signed on. Reichert says if the situation were reversed, he’d be willing to help Democrats. He issued a statement today saying:
Many times when Republicans were in the majority, my colleagues would call on me to go to my leadership to help the state, for instance when we learned of language that would allow supertankers onto Puget Sound. Today, I urge all of my colleagues in the Washington delegation - including Governor Gregoire - to join together and reject the Speaker’s effort to shelve this vital measure.

President George Bush has been pushing Congress to approve the deal. And as recently as last week, it appeared a vote could be taken soon in the House.


I’m not sure where each of the Democrats stands on the Colombia trade deal. (And if any of them are reading this, please have your staff let us know.)

According to AP:

Most Democrats, backed by organized labor and some human rights groups, are against the Colombia deal. They have cited violence against union organizers in Colombia and have made clear they will not consider further agreements until legislation is passed to expand current programs to help American workers displaced by foreign trade.

"Our focus on Colombia is the continuing violence against trade unionists," said Bill Samuel, the AFL-CIO's legislative director. He said he thought Pelosi's action effectively would stop any action on the agreement this year.

Reichert was in Colombia on a bi-partisan trip arranged by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. He met there with supporters and opponents of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement. Before the trip, Reichert Chief of Staff Mike Shields said Colombia is a “success story.”

Is it perfect? No. But it has made improvements and it is our friend and ally in that part of the world, particularly when they have a neighbor who is fashioning himself to be a Fidel Castro for that part of the world.

Shields said that trade is an important part of U.S. foreign policy “in terms of reaching out around the world” and that it would send a bad message if “you can’t find a way to overcome your differences and work with a country that has been supportive and is an ally like Colombia.”

You can find USTR’s documents on the agreement here. The Citizens Trade Campaign which opposes ratification of the agreement, has information here.

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Posted by evergreen_representative

8:19 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Globalization and unfettered trade agreements have weakened the American economy, devastated America's manufacturing base, thrown U.S. workers out of jobs, and has made outsourcing of jobs to international locales business as usual in today's dysfunctional economy. You don't see Darcy Burner or one of her representatives making these points, either here (the Seattle Times' political blog) or anywhere else, which is why C. Mark Greene, independent candidate for Congress, is leading the progressive, William Jennings Bryan wing of the 8th Congressional District of Washington in the contest for August's "Top 2" primary.

www.PartyofCommons.com

Posted by Cheryl

8:25 AM, Apr 10, 2008

Oh, guess what Reichert, it's FREE TRADE that has ruined this country. You ought to be working to get manufacturing back in this country instead of sending it all over the world and depriving Americans of jobs. I guess you didn't have to worry about it when you worked, it's kind of hard to offshore a cop's work.

And the other thing, you work for Americans - ALL Americans, not just the republican party.

Posted by JustAnotherVoter

10:09 AM, Apr 10, 2008

There are legitimate reasons why the Seattle Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Post and numerous other publications across the country have endorsed the Colombian Free Trade Agreement -- it's good for America. Trade agreements actually create high-wage jobs here while building wealth in other countries so they can afford to buy our products -- like airplanes and software.


Washington continues to be the most trade dependent state in the nation (according to 2006 numnbers, the most recent available). Those who would suggest that unfettered trade leads to a loss of jobs and lower living standards are simply taking their cue from antiquated labor union talking points.


Many Colombian imports to the U.S. already enjoy numerous and generous trade preferences, this agreement would simply open Colombian markets to U.S. goods. I think Cong. Reichert IS representing the best interests of Washingtonians and all Americans in his efforts to move this agreeement forward in a timely way that is in accordance with congressional rules regarding these important trade agreements (90 days).

Posted by upchuck

10:29 AM, Apr 10, 2008

"... reasons why the Seattle Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Post and numerous other publications ..."

...because they're multi-million dollar corporations.

it's called "free" because it makes trampling over individual freedoms and the public interest "free" to corporations

so far "free trade" has been bipartisan, but dem pols are starting to realize it's why they've lost their majority. if they let any "free trade" deals through now they know they can kiss this blue wave they're riding good-bye...

Posted by upchuck

10:33 AM, Apr 10, 2008

but maybe they'll gamble with the free-trade/anti-war tightrope and cash in on some corporate dough while they're at it.... hillary at least sure seemed to along with a number of wa's congressional delegation dem pols.

Posted by JustAnotherVoter

11:36 AM, Apr 10, 2008

Wow...I was operating under the silly notion that dems currently control DC (other than the White House), the Washington legislature and most city and county governments in western Washington. I don't think the labor comnmunity will be walking away from them to vote for Republicans, do you, Upchuck?

Posted by Will in Seattle

11:57 AM, Apr 10, 2008

Once again Reichert bankrupts us - first it was King County with his insistence on the death penalty trial for the Green River Killer - who he worked out a plea bargain to keep in prison for life - now he wants to bankrupt the Nation with a "free" trade deal with a drug/torture nation.

Get REAL!

I'll be glad when he's tossed out this year.

Posted by upchuck

12:51 PM, Apr 10, 2008

jav, i was speaking past tense. it was why gore was unable to secure a large majority when he chased away all the perot voting trade/economy minded centrists. and actually bush still controls the executive functions of the fed without regard (legal, constitutional, or otherwise) to the judiciary or the democratically controlled congress. and you're right jav, the unions and liberals will not vote for mccain and rossi, but if the dems particiapate in the free trade frenzy the progressives might bolt for a nader or stay home and the perot-block may go for mccain or libertarians, or stay home. our state would likely stay blue but not sure about dc if the dlc leads the natl party.

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