Obama Meets With Uribe; Concerns Over Colombia Deal Remain

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.

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.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

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

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In