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POLITICS: PennAve

White House sidesteps Harry Reid's resistance to trade agenda

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,Harry Reid,PennAve,Economy,Jay Carney

The White House Thursday tried to defuse a brewing confrontation with its allies after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dealt a major blow to President Obama's trade agenda.

Just a day after Obama's State of the Union address, Reid came out against so-called fast-track legislation, which would expedite the passage of free-trade agreements.

“Leader Reid has always been clear on his position on this particular issue,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters, as Obama traveled to Wisconsin for an economic event Thursday.

“We will not cede this important opportunity for American workers and businesses to our competitors,” Obama’s top spokesman added, trying to downplay the rift between Democrats.

Carney repeated those phrases several times when pressed on how Reid’s opposition endangered the White House initiative.

Some progressives believe such trade deals are bad for American workers, particularly union members.

Republicans have pounced on Reid’s resistance, saying that Democrats are effectively blocking an area where the GOP could cooperate with the White House.

And analysts say the lack of a resolution could endanger new trade deals between the U.S. and European and Asian nations.

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