House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said President Obama should "stand up and lead" on lowering trade barriers to increase American exports and create more jobs.
"I've made it clear over the last several months that the president needs to engage in this issue," the Ohio Republican said at a news conference at the party's annual winter retreat outside Washington. "Trade Promotion Authority allows the administration to negotiate with our colleagues and allies around the world to expand trade."
Boehner attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's opposition on the issue, also known as fast-track negotiating authority.
"I'm against fast track," Reid told reporters on Wednesday. "Everyone would be well-advised just to not push this right now."
Reid's opposition jeopardizes two huge deals that are currently being negotiated with Pacific Rim countries and with the European Union, The New York Times reports.
Many in Congress were critical of President Bill Clinton's ability to get the North American Free Trade Agreement passed in 1993, but Clinton prevailed. NAFTA involved the United States, Canada, and Mexico — and the deal was heavily supported by Republicans.
"Expanded trade means more opportunities for Americans, more exports," Boehner said. "So the question is, 'Is the president going to stand up and lead on this issue?' We cannot pass this bill without his help.
"If this is one of his own priorities, you would think that he would have the Senate majority leader working with him to pass trade promotion authority in order to expand opportunities for our fellow citizens."
Boehner added: "We know that the president's policies are not working. That's why we need to show the American people that the policies that we're in favor of really will improve their lives."
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