Obama Meets With Uribe; Concerns Over Colombia Deal Remain

More

President Obama met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe today, discussing a trade pact that had the full support of President Bush but stalled under opposition from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, congressional Democrats, and labor unions. Bush had pushed for the deal in the face of staunch opposition in Congress, and his administration organized trips to Colombia for U.S. lawmakers to visit with government and business leaders in the hopes of winning their votes. (Democrats, as well as Republicans, traveled there.)

Labor unions remain staunchly opposed to the deal, their main argument being reports of Colombian-military-sanctioned killings of trade unionists, and Pelosi has no plans to bring the agreement to the floor any time soon, according to her office. The safety of Colombian labor leaders needs to be dealt with before the content of an agreement can be ironed out, spokesman Brendan Daly said.

Obama today said a compromise could be reached, but he also signaled concern over labor leaders' safety--hitting a note that critics of the deal were certainly looking for. He waded into the trade issue, which became a focal point of U.S./Colombia relations under Bush, at a hot time for geopolitics in the Americas, with a court-backed overthrow in Honduras having happened over the weekend and with the White House opening relations with Venezuela last week.

The Obama White House has yet to embark on trade areements; those in the works are Panama, South Korea, and Colombia. Panama is expected to be the first one hammered out; after that, we'll see how congressional Democrats handle trade agreements under the new administration. Bush used fast-track authority (an agreement under which Congress votes on trade deals within a certain time frame and does not allow amendments) to push trade agreements through the legislature; Democrats, more averse to/careful about free trade as a party, will likely deal with the agreements in more slowly and carefully.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In