David Rivera Hammers Obama for 'Moving the Goal Post' on Free-Trade Deals
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The White House announced this week there has been meaningful progress in the administration's negotiations with Congress on reforming the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program and in three pending free-trade agreements -- but a Florida Republican on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said Wednesday that he isn't buying it.
The White House and Republicans controlling the House have been negotiating reforms to the TAA, which helps American workers who lose their jobs due to increased trade as well as the pending deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. Three Republican congressmen in the Florida delegation -- Vern Buchanan, Connie Mack and David Rivera -- have been very active in criticizing President Barack Obama for allowing the agreements to stall. The Obama administration made forwarding the agreements contigent on the TAA reforms.
This week, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, insisted the White House and Congress have come to some agreements.
“President Obama has fought for an ambitious trade agenda that doubles exports in five years, levels the playing field for American workers, and reflects American values,” insisted Carney. “As part of that agenda, he has fought for Trade Adjustment Assistance for those American workers who lose their jobs due to increased imports or outsourcing. As a result of extensive negotiations, we now have an agreement on the underlying terms for a meaningful renewal of a strengthened TAA. The president embraces these critical elements of TAA needed to ensure that workers have the best opportunity to get good jobs that keep them in the middle class. Now it is time to move forward with TAA and with the Korea, Colombia, and Panama trade agreements, which will support tens of thousands of jobs.”
During a media event on Wednesday, Obama urged Congress to pass the agreements, insisting they will help the American auto industry.
Rivera, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, fired back later on Wednesday, insisting that the Obama administration was to blame for the stalled agreements -- and noted that the White House still had not prepared the final versions of the free-trade agreements.
“During a press conference today, President Obama said that the three free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea are pending before Congress right now, and listed them among the job-creating projects that have been ‘tied up in Congress for some time.’ That’s disingenuous,” said Rivera. “The president has not sent a finalized version of the free-trade agreements to Congress for a vote and it seems that each time he is close to doing so, he moves the goal post instead, implementing a new set of conditions for approval.
“The three pending free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea would eliminate trade barriers and increase demand for American goods abroad which would increase U.S. GDP and exports by billions of dollars, and create thousands of jobs in the United States as a result,” insisted Rivera. “The president and Senate Democrats have to stop bending to labor union pressures, either by requiring labor improvements from Colombia -- which our Latin American ally has met time and again -- or by making passage of the free-trade agreements contingent upon the extension of the Trade Adjustment Act.”
Rivera noted that time was running out for the White House to get their act together on the pending agreements.
"Four weeks away from the August recess, we are no closer to approving these free-trade agreements that have been pending for years,” said Rivera. “The free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea would be good for the American economy and job creation. Will the White House recognize that and send the free-trade agreements to Congress before the August recess, or continue to let them languish by piling on additional conditions?”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.