House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today announced she will ask Democrats to alter the rules that would have required Congress to vote on a proposed Free Trade Agreement with Colombia in 90 days. In doing so, she and her liberal colleagues will alter the rules of procedure to suit their partisan ends and seek to end quietly discussion of a pesky trade agreement.
To justify this action, Pelosi remarked:
That many people were concerned about losing their jobs, many were concerned about losing their homes. But that was not most people. Almost everybody, though, was concerned about losing their standard of living. That their income, purchasing power, their income has gone down, while the cost of everything, all the necessities and the staples — groceries, gasoline, education, health care, housing costs, etc. — had gone up. It was about the cost of things. And I thought it would be important for us to continue conversations related to how we bring some balance to this issue.
Then at the appropriate moment she announced, “But the President took his action. I will take mine tomorrow.”
This is fine statement filled with the vague generalities and fulsome platitudes that often pass for political discourse on Capitol Hill today, said Heritage’s Ray Walser, a senior policy analyst for Latin America. Sadly, Pelosi did not mention that snubbing the Colombia agreement will:
- Mean fewer jobs for Americans, who would benefit by wider, freer access to Colombia’s growing (more than 6% annually) market. Colombia’s goods already enter largely free of duty.
- Snub a friend who was foolish enough to believe in the U.S., and in the words of Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), “sacrifice over two centuries of international credibility for the shallowest possible short-term political gain.”
- Cause the people of the Colombia to perhaps have second-thoughts, after the expenditure of $5.5 billion in U.S. assistance to fight drugs and terrorism, about the merits of cooperation on vital matters such as the fight against drug traffickers and narco-terrorists.
- Open a door of opportunity to exploit political fissures in Colombia for the anti-American President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela with his populism, petroleum and affinity for Colombia’s hated Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Few measures have commanded more bipartisan support in the press, among real foreign policy leaders and with Latin American diplomats and specialist than the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
None of these serious considerations, none of these endorsements by those who truly know the issues were sufficient to overcome Pelosi’s fit of protectionist pique.