Washington — President Bush and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe renewed their push on Saturday for Congress to approve a free-trade deal before lawmakers leave town to campaign for re-election.
"It's in our economic interest that we continue to open up markets in our neighborhood, particularly with a nation that is growing like yours," Bush told Uribe in the Rose Garden. "And yet we can't get a vote out of Congress. I've been asking the Democrat leadership in Congress for a vote, and they've consistently blocked the vote."
Congressional Democrats say they are delaying votes on trade deals involving Colombia, Panama and South Korea until the Bush administration resolves questions about the impact on U.S. jobs and other issues. But time is running out on the legislative calendar.
Bush urged lawmakers to reconsider their opposition, but seemed resigned that it might not happen on his watch. Bush called Uribe an "honest man" who has responded to U.S. concerns about crime in Colombia and has been successful in reducing homicides, kidnappings and terrorist attacks.