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House Democrats create roadblocks for Colombia trade pac

House Democrats create roadblocks for Colombia trade pac

Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives said Wednesday they planned to indefinitely postpone action on a free trade deal with Colombia negotiated by the Bush administration.

   House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said more time is needed to make sure the pact addresses labor and environmental standards and that the president should tackle the struggling economy instead.

   She plans to ask the House to change the rules for consideration of the Colombia agreement, and remove the requirement that it be considered within 90 legislative days. Under the fast-track trade negotiation rules in place at the time the deal was signed, Congress must give a thumbs up or down vote without any changes within 90 days of receiving the implementing language. Earlier this week, the White House sent the legislation to Congress without approval from congressional leadership.

   Pelosi said she told President Bush the legislation will not pass in its current form.

   The U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying Congress should respect the terms of the trade promotion authority and vote for the agreement on its merits.

   White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the rule change will have a chilling effect on future trade negotiations.

   “We think this is an awful precedent,” Perino said. “We think it’s a terrible thing for this administration, but it’s also terrible for all future administrations, both Republicans and Democrats, because countries will not be able to have faith in our word when we’re negotiating trade deals.”

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