Asked by British press agency Reuters whether this could help prospects for House passage of a U.S. free-trade agreement with Colombia, Hoyer responded, “I think it is helpful.” But he added that there has been no movement yet in scheduling a vote on the House floor.On April 10 House Democrats won an indefinite delay of congressional approval of the free-trade agreement negotiated by the Bush administration with Colombia.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said that dealing with the ailing U.S. economy was a higher priority. She has been a long-standing critic of Colombian violence against labor unions and lagging environmental protections.U.S. labor unions, an important constituency for Democrats, especially in this election year, are strongly opposed to the trade deal with Colombia, saying it has not done enough to stop violence against trade unionists there.Bogota‘s extradition of the 14 suspects on Tuesday prompted Hoyer, the second-ranking lawmaker in the House, to praise the government of U.S. ally President Alvaro Uribe.”I think that the Uribe government continues to pursue trying to enforce a more stable environment and go after those whether they’re paramilitaries or FARC who are committing crimes,” Hoyer said.The Colombia militia bosses, who were taken into custody by U.S. law enforcement officials in Miami, face drug and money laundering charges in Florida, New York and Texas.They have been accused in Colombia of killing thousands during a four-decade conflict between rebels and Colombia’s government.Colombia has received billions in U.S. aid to help combat its guerrilla insurgence and drug trade. The Bush administration has continued pushing for approval of the free-trade deal, which it says would help U.S. companies export goods to the South American country.
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