Saturday, June 30, 2007

Secret trade deal delayed

From David Sirota's blog

“Democratic leaders in Congress put off a vote on trade agreements with Peru and Panama until those countries revamp their laws to comply with new labor and environment standards in the accords. The demand is a blow to the Bush administration, which pressed the Democratic majority in Congress to have the Peru agreement approved next month…Two other agreements, with South Korea and Colombia, face further hurdles before Congress will consider them, the Democrats said. Even though Pelosi and Rangel worked out an agreement with the administration last month to revamp the four pending free-trade agreements, they aren’t assured passage in Congress. Many Democrats say they won’t support those or any other agreements reached by the Bush administration. ‘We need to play defense against all these agreements,’ Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said yesterday.”

In the same story, though, we see exactly why we have to keep the pressure on - namely because they still intend to ultimately try to ram the deal through, even though it delegates all power to enforce the much-touted new labor and environmental provisions to the Bush White House. This delay represents fear - a fear by the handful of Democrats who agreed to this deal, by the Bush White House and by corporate lobbyists that if they try to pass this deal into law right now, it will be defeated. That we’ve created that fear is an incredible step forward - but you can bet the forces pushing this deal will be spending the next few months doing whatever they can to steamroll the opposition:

“Representative Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, will lead a delegation oflawmakers to those countries in August to help them work through those changes, Democrats said in a statement. ‘We are hopeful that this trip will lead to the swift passage this fall in Peru and Panama of the necessary legislation to change laws and implement fully the respective agreements,'’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rangel and other Democratic leaders said in a joint statement today.”
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