Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blasted the Obama administration Monday after the White House indicated it won’t advance three key trade deals unless Congress extends a program for workers displaced because of outsourcing, the Washington Post reported.
“The trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama have been held up by the administration for years, and I was encouraged at the recent movement in the White House to act,” McConnell said in a statement Monday afternoon. “So it was more than surprising that the president’s staff would again threaten to delay their implementation – particularly when the president himself agrees with us that these agreements will create jobs here in America,” he said.
“Our economy needs jobs and growth, not an ever-expanding list of reasons to delay the creation of those jobs,” McConnell continues in the Washington Post report.
The senator said he hopes Obama will reconsider his decision and “not allow anything to get in the way of congressional consideration of these trade agreements and the jobs they’ll create.”
The obstacle represents the latest round in a tug of war between both parties over the stalled three free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Columbia.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and other officials announced Monday that the administration would not allow the three trade pacts to move forward unless lawmakers worked out a deal on the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. The TAA program, which provides job training and other aid to workers who have lost their jobs because of competition from abroad, was expanded in 2009. That expansion expired in February.