Sen. Schumer: GOP Hearing Boycott Proves Republicans Are Sabotaging Economy

June 30, 2011 4:19 pm ET — Alan Pyke

Today's Senate Finance Committee hearing to mark up long-pending free trade agreements was supposed to be ridiculous because Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) planned to attach an anti-abortion rider to one of them. But after committee Republicans boycotted the hearing and paralyzed the FTAs they've whined about for months, it became a different sort of spectacle.

"Our colleagues who are not here are the same ones who've been attacking the administration for imaginary delay and dawdling about getting these very trade packages passed," Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) observed.

For Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who's been reluctantly wondering if Republicans are sabotaging the recovery for political reasons for a few weeks, the boycott confirmed that conservatives are indeed pursuing that insidious strategy. "Yesterday, seven to ten of our Republican colleagues got up and said we must stay here next week, and then they don't show up," Schumer said. "They want the country to be in as bad shape as possible, because that might help them electorally," he added.

SCHUMER: Yesterday, seven to ten of our Republican colleagues got up and said we must stay here next week, and then today they don't show up. I mean, totally inconsistent within the span of 24 hours. And it leads you to only one conclusion, which my colleagues have alluded to, which is: They want the country to be in as bad shape as possible, because that might help them electorally. [...] All of a sudden it's sort of like a new fever has taken over the other side, that the best way to win is to hurt the country as much as you can, and that will create political benefit.

Watch:

President Obama and congressional Republicans agree that FTAs with Panama, Colombia and South Korea should get finalized. They just disagree about whether or not the same government that signs those FTAs should do something to help American workers displaced (read: fired) by the companies who take advantage of the agreements. Democrats think that the Trade Adjustment Assistance program is a good thing, and Republicans disagree.

Rather than work through those differences and move the FTAs along, Republicans are scuttling the process — literally refusing to show up and work on it — and thus depriving President Obama of an economic accomplishment. Schumer is right.

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