"I want Congress to send me a set of trade deals that would allow our businesses to sell more products in countries in Asia and South America that are stamped with the words, ‘Made in America."
That’s what President Obama said in his opening remarks at a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland Friday.
So, now we know what’s really holding up the three FTAs – President Obama is waiting for Congress to send him the trade deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, but Congress can’t send him the agreements, because lawmakers don’t have them. Congress can’t vote on the three FTAs until the President formally submits them – which at the very end of his College Park appearance on Friday Mr. Obama indicated isn’t going to happen until there’s a deal on the debt limit.
Of course, the President knows perfectly well how the "fast track" legislative process under Trade Promotion Authority works. He was simply trying to shorthand a complicated procedural issue for an audience that doesn’t – while sending reassurances to the US business community that desperately wants these FTAs that he still plans to move forward. And at the same time, the President was also doing a little blame-laying – basically telling the audience that Congress – not the White House – is holding up the FTAs.