The damage from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) decision to kill the Colombia Free Trade Agreement is still being calculated around the world. The Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson explains how it hurts the very people Pelosi claims she is trying to help:

What House Democrats did was particularly perverse. They suspended trade promotion authority, which mandates that Congress vote up or down on trade agreements within 90 days of their submission. TPA gives other countries a reason to negotiate in good faith. They can make politically difficult concessions without fearing that Congress will ignore the agreement because it dislikes the U.S. concessions.

Americans do have legitimate trade complaints: China manipulates its currency to aid exporters; other countries restrict imports. It’s in the U.S. interest to dismantle these obstacles. Now the suspension of TPA can serve as an excuse — symbolically and substantively — for other countries not to negotiate, just when U.S. firms can most benefit from market openings.