The president is pushing three deals drafted under Bush. When Congress takes them up next week, how will his party vote?
When George W. Bush asked Congress to pass a Colombia free-trade agreement in the waning months of his presidency, Democrats revolted.
"The president took action," then-House-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference when Bush submitted the deal to Congress in April 2008. "Tomorrow, I will take mine." Labor leaders blasted Bush's deal, citing the murders of Colombian trade unionists. "The AFL-CIO position on the Colombia FTA [free trade agreement] remains unchanged: The violence, murders, impunity and violations of workers' rights in Colombia must end," said John Sweeney, then the labor federation's president.
Pelosi proceeded to block the deal, which went the way of other Latin American trade deals Bush had orchestrated, plus another stalled deal with South Korea.
Flash forward to 2011. President Obama is stumping for three Bush trade deals -- with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama -- as he calls on Congress to immediately pass his latest jobs agenda.
"Now it's time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama and Colombia and South Korea -- while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition," the president said during his speech to a joint session of Congress last week. "If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers. I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with the three proud words: 'Made in America.' That's what we need to get done."