Obama to meet with Harry Reid amid trade dispute

McClatchy Washington BureauFebruary 3, 2014 

President Barack Obama meets today with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Oval Office -- days after Reid said he opposed legislation critical to a trans-Pacific trade pact.

Obama is seeking so-called fast track negotiating authority to move the pact. But many Democrats oppose giving him the authority, which would require Congress to act on the trade deals negotiated by the administration by a yes-or-no vote, without the ability to make any changes.

Reid said he opposed fast-track authority and that lawmakers should not push for it now.

Obama in his State of the Union address called on a reluctant Congress to give him the special trade-promotion authority saying that with 98 percent of our exporters small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific would help create jobs.

"We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped 'Made in the USA,' " Obama said in the speech before both chambers of Congress. "China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines. Neither should we."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wouldn't say what the two men would talk about during the meeting, but called trade an "important issue" for Obama.

"If we can successfully bring to conclusion trade agreements with Europe and Asia, that's good for American workers, good for the American economy," he said.

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