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House Republicans want Obama to act on trade
House Republican leaders challenge Obama to act on trade
Associated Press
2014-01-31 03:01 AM

CAMBRIDGE, Maryland (AP) -- House Republican leaders challenged President Barack Obama on Thursday to override the opposition of the Senate's top Democrat and help pass trade legislation the administration favors.

"The president ought to stand up and lead on this issue," House Speaker John Boehner said at a news conference at a two-day retreat for members of the party's rank-and-file.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the third-ranking House leader, noted that Obama said in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night that he has a phone and a pen and will use them to implement his priorities. "The first phone call should be to Harry Reid" the Senate majority leader, he said.

Many labor unions oppose trade legislation, as do their Democratic allies in Congress. They argue that trade deals often put American companies at a disadvantage when competing with overseas firms in countries with relatively lax workplace or environmental protections.

Obama urged Congress Tuesday night to pass a measure that would ease approval of trade deals with European and Asian nations. The legislation would require Congress to act by a yes-or-no vote, without the ability to make any changes.

It's the type of legislation that has been used in the past under presidents of both political parties, and Republicans, unusually siding with Obama, reacted favorably. But Reid, a Democrat, said Wednesday he is opposed to the bill, which is called fast-track legislation. He advised its supporters not to seek its passage at the current time.

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