You may not have seen it in your local paper last week*, but on Wednesday Congress finally passed the free trade deals with Colombia, Korea and Panama. These agreements are good news for workers in the United States and workers in each of these countries.
The agreements, especially the one with Colombia, have been hanging around since the George W. Bush administration, but the Democrats, particularly the House Democrats under Nancy Pelosi opposed them and wouldn’t let them come to a vote. Even with the Republicans taking control of the House in January, the bills were still delayed and delayed as the Obama administration, in spite of the President’s alleged support for them, kept finding new reasons to not send the bills to Congress.
The President finally sent the bills to Congress in September, and within a few weeks** the bills passed. Consider the votes in the House and Senate on each of these deals:
I was glad, and proud, to see the strong support for these bills by Republicans in both houses. And I am glad that President Obama finally sent these deals to Congress in spite of the opposition by congressional Democrats.
One final point: Remember how the “Tea Party” elected in November 2010 were supposed to be ignorant isolationists who didn’t appreciate the United States’ position in the world and how the world economy works. Obviously, it wasn’t true about them.
* It wasn’t, for example, in the print edition of the Chicago Tribune. It’s good that the Tribune no longer claims to be “The World’s Greatest Newspaper”.
** Update (10/17/11 8:45 am): It was actually within a week.