McConnell calls for presidential leadership on trade

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he hopes President Obama discusses trade during his State of the Union address later this month.

McConnell said Republicans stand ready to act on legislation that would allow Congress and the administration to authorize several trade agreements. Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have introduced such a bill that would give the president trade promotion authority.

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“We need to catch up, but we can’t do that without leadership from the president,” McConnell said Thursday on the Senate floor. “We need him to step up for American workers and increased exports by bringing his party on board with the trade promotion bill that was introduced just last week.”

McConnell said the best way to stimulate the economy is through trade agreements with Europe and Asia.

“With our economy in such dire straits these days, opening new opportunities for American goods through trade should be just a no brainer,” McConnell said. “It’s an issue that used to be fairly bipartisan around here, and it can be again — if the president is willing to lead. Millions of middle-class families and small businesses are counting on him to do just that.”

Trade promotion authority would allow the administration to fast-track trade agreements with other countries — something the Senate typically has to sign off on, but because of gridlock few trade agreements have been considered.