Rangel told reporters that Republicans “have serious reservations about what they agreed to,” and as a result Democrats must allay GOP concerns in order to reach an agreement. Rangel is trying to craft a deal between the Bush administration and committee Republicans and Democrats that could allow four pending trade pacts to be considered.
A spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said she has no reservations on what she agreed to last week, and is hopeful the sides will reach a successful conclusion.
Business groups say they will not support an agreement that would allow U.S. labor laws to be challenged, while labor organizations say they will not support a deal that explicitly carves out U.S. labor laws from possible challenges. Business sources also said they do not believe the administration can agree to a deal that would allow challenges to U.S. labor laws.
Business lobbyists said Rangel, Ways and Means ranking member Jim McCrery (R-La.) and the administration appeared close to a deal last week until a meeting between AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Rangel.
Rangel indicated Thursday that excluding U.S. labor laws from potential challenges is a non-starter for House Democrats. He also said many observers believe U.S. labor laws could not be challenged as inconsistent with ILO principles even if they are not explicitly carved out.