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U.S. - Columbia FTA Stalls in Congress

Jeremy Sprinkle
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No to Columbia FTAThe Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) represents a continuation of the Bush administration's failed trade policies, an agenda that has contributed to the loss of more than 3 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, skyrocketing trade deficits and shrinking paychecks.

The Columbia deal was drafted and signed by the Bush administration before the expiration last summer of its "fast-track" trade authority - authority that required the House and Senate to vote up or down without amendments on trade agreements within 90 days of their being introduced to the Congress, which the President did last week.

Unable to amend the language of the Columbia FTA, the Democratic controlled House voted to change House rules and eliminated the deadline, without which this dangerous "free trade" agreement hopefully will just die in the Congress.

How did your Congressman / Congresswoman vote on the rule change?

G.K Butterfield (D-1st NC)aye
Bob Etheridge (D-2nd NC)aye
Walter Jones (R-3rd NC)aye
David Price (D-4th NC)aye
Virginia Foxx (R-5th NC)no
Howard Coble (R-6th NC)no
Mike McIntyre (D-7th NC)aye
Robin Hayes (R-8th NC)aye
Sue Myrick (R-9th NC)no
Patrick McHenry (R-10th NC)no
Heath Shuler (D-11th NC)aye
Mel Watt (D-12th NC)aye
Brad Miller (D-13th NC)aye

Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world for union members--39 trade unionists were murdered in 2007 and another 17 to date in 2008. Of the more than 2,500 murders of trade unionists since 1986, only some 70 cases--about 3 percent--have resulted in convictions.

Balanced trade agreements must guarantee the right to organize, lift the lives of workers in both countries and prevent exploitation. But this can't happen in a country where workers who try to organize are killed.