GOP Isn't Letting Colombia Die

The White House and the GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill are keeping up a steady media drumbeat on the importance of passing the Colombia free trade agreement.

The latest installment: today, House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today, arguing that passing the trade pact would serve as a stimulus to the economy.

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the Bush administration signing the trade deal with Colombia.

The Republican offensive follows the unprecedented move by Pelosi to change the chamber's rules and suspend consideration of the Colombia pact. Signed under special trade rules known as trade promotion authority, the Colombia deal was supposed to be subject to a 90-day legislative schedule once the Bush administration sent it to the Hill. Pelosi and other Democratic leaders warned Bush not to make such a move without their blessing; stopping the clock was their response when Bush sent the pact April 7.

"[B]ecause of your decision to shelve this agreement, American farmers, workers and businesses have lost over a billion dollars due to unnecessary, burdensome tariffs that the Colombia trade agreement would repeal," Blunt wrote.

"I respectfully ask you to consider the economic benefits that relieving onerous tariffs and encouraging U.S. exports would have on our export-driven economy during these economically challenging times."