House Democrats urge closer look at Korean trade deal

Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), co-chairman of the Textile Caucus, said the agreement would "wreak havoc on our domestic textile industry, rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas and inflating our ever growing trade deficit with communist China."

"I will do all I can to defeat this trade deal and work to save the jobs of the hardworking people of my district," he said.  

The push to halt the long-delayed Korean deal comes a day before a scheduled hearing at the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade where it's expected Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and other lawmakers will argue that the agreements are overdue and need to be wrapped up and sent to Congress for approval. 

"We don’t need any more tweaks around the edges and recycled talking points," said Rep. Mike Michaud (R-Maine), chairman of the House Trade Working Group. "This is a bad deal for our country, and the American people deserve to know the truth about this trade agreement and what it will mean for our economy, national security and the future of our manufacturing sector.

Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans on both sides of the Capitol are clamoring for the Obama administration to send them all three pending trade accords with Korea, Colombia and Panama. 

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told lawmakers last week that Korea deal is ready for congressional approval and the other two deals are still in the works but edging closer to completion. 

A group of 44 Senate Republicans sent a letter on Monday to President Obama vowing to hold up for the Commerce Department and other trade-related nominations until all three agreements are lined up for ratification. 

The move was backed by Brady and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). But Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) disagreed with the tactic, calling it a diversion to completing the agreements. 

The lawmakers also argued that the deal would hurt the manufacturing sector, the auto supply chain and allow for Chinese auto parts to be used in American-made and Korean cars. 

"At a time when our economy is struggling to dig out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, our nation’s workers cannot afford another race to the bottom trade agreement,” said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Education and Workforce Committee.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), chairwoman of International Workers Rights Caucus, added that the growing reliance of the U.S. on imports and a "lack of industrial infrastructure" has created a national security concern.