A group of Republican senators called on President Barack Obama Wednesday to send free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia to Congress for passage, arguing that the president is responsible for hurting job creation by holding up the process.
“We need to get America back in the business of expanding exports because it’s to the benefit of the American worker,” said Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman at a press conference at the Capitol.
“If the President really cares about jobs, he will send these agreements up immediately,” Portman said.
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, echoed Portman.
“Are we going to end the status quo of where nothing has been done on trade agreements since the Pelosi House of Representatives took over in 2007,” Grassley said. “That status quo is that nothing has been done and the United States is losing its leadership in what we’ve done for 60 years in world trade — leading the rest of the world.”
“The President’s own policies have thrown a big wet blanket over job creation in America,” said Alexander. (RELATED: Congressman: Dismantle the NLRB, give its duties to the Justice Dept.)
The House is expected to pass a bill to extend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) duty free access program to begin the process of getting the trade deals, originally negotiated by the Bush administration, from the White House to Capitol Hill. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates the trade deals will create 380,000 jobs.
House passage of the GSP bill would allow the Senate to attach the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill which the White House says must occur before they will send the free trade agreements to Congress.
“There’s one person in the United States of America who is stopping job creation by not letting these bills come to the floor and that’s the President of the United States,” said Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.