(en) fast-track vote delayed

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Fri, 7 Nov 1997 19:25:58 +0000

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 13:36:02 -0800 (PST) From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org> Subject: fast-track vote delayed

This came on line 40 minutes ago. The suggestion is that a vote will be taken WHEN/IF there's a chance of clinton winning this fast-track authority. Since it is also suggested that the vote masy be takmen Saturday or Sunday, here's another opportunity for y'all to reach your friendly legislators on the subject. MichaelP

============================== Friday November 7 3:40 PM EST U.S. Fast Track Trade Authority Vote Delayed

By Donna Smith WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Faced with a possible embarrassing defeat on a key element of his economic policy, President Bill Clinton agreed Friday to a delayed vote in the House of Representatives on "fast track" trade authority. The decision to delay the scheduled vote until Saturday or Sunday was announced just minutes after Clinton made a plea to lawmakers to support him on the legislation, which would give him special powers to negotiate trade agreements that could not be altered by Congress. "The choice before Congress is clear," he said. "I think it is imperative that we understand that a key reason more people are working and that wages are rising and that unemployment is down to the lowest level in more than two decades is that we have opened new markets and won new customers for American goods and services." But Republicans, who control the House, said Clinton asked for the delay because he was short of votes among his own Democrats and needed the extra time for more arm-twisting. White House officials denied that Clinton initiated the delay and told reporters it had been a mutual decision with the Republican House leadership. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich expressed surprise and said he would not have delayed the vote unless the administration had requested it. "At the request of the Clinton Administration we are going to postpone the vote on fast track until tomorrow or Sunday," Gingrich told reporters. "I think we will suffer significant damage both in the world markets and in our leadership if this vote goes down." On Wall Street, stock and bond prices were down on Friday. But analysts said traders were more concerned about a strong U.S. October job picture, which could mean higher interest rates, and shaky world financial markets than about what Congress was doing on trade. Gingrich said about 60 Democrats were needed to vote for the bill for it to pass. Previously Republicans had demanded 70 Democratic votes. He said the intensity of the lobbying against the bill by labor unions scared many Democrats from supporting their own president. "We are going to cooperate with the Clinton administration in every way we can to get it through," Gingrich said. "In all fairness, they face a much harder job and the labor union pressure, and frankly blackmail, has been so extraordinary." He said unions had told Democratic members they would face opposition in next year's primaries if they vote for the fast track measure. An AFL-CIO official called Gingrich's allegation "absolutely dead wrong." "Ask any member of the House or the Senate yourself and you will find we have not done that," said Deborah Dion, a spokeswoman for the giant labor federation. House Ways and mMeans Committee Chairman Bill Archer, a Texas Republican, said he thought Clinton was about 15 votes short on the Democratic side. "I dont think it's a setback," Archer said of the delay. "It is just evidence we are going to expend every possible effort to get this done...I think we are going to have the votes to pass fast track this weekend." Under fast track, Congress gives up its right to amend trade agreements, and lawmakers can vote for or against them but not change them. Clinton wants the authority to negotiate expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which groups the United States, Canada and Mexico, to include Chile, and to negotiate other market-opening accords in Latin America and Asia. Labor and environmental groups have lobbied hard against the bill, saying it puts too many restrictions on Clinton's ability to negotiate labor and environmental issues in trade deals. They want the president to have broad authority to bring those issues into agreements and make them enforceable with sanctions. Republicans and business groups oppose giving a Democratic president such broad authority on those issues. Trade analysts said a defeat for Clinton could have far-ranging effects, including an impact on financial markets. "They will think this is the death of fast track, they will think it's the death of free trade," Susan Aaronson, a Brookings Institution economist, said. She said she expected the president to prevail. ==================

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