President Clinton Fails to Support Renewed Calls for Fast Track Vote

President Bill Clinton has failed to actively support the June 25 announcement by Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, that he planned to schedule a September vote on extending fast-track trade negotiating authority for the President.

Answering questions in the Rose Garden on July 6, President Clinton said, "I don't know anything has changed in terms of the votes." Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on July 9, USTR Charlene Barshefsky said "the Administration does not intend to put a fast-track bill up for sport. If the votes are not here now, we do not intend to proceed."

Speaker Gingrich, however, thinks a renewed attempt at passage of fast-track negotiating authority is warranted. He believes that with the "changes in the agricultural situation and with the problems in Asia and Russia that the awareness of the need to send a strong signal to world markets is greater than it was last fall."

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has been critical of the President's failure to support Congressional overtures. He has recommended moving a "package" of trade items, linking fast-track with the Africa Trade bill and the Caribbean Basin Initiative parity legislation. The Administration opposes this approach. Mr. Clinton said "if there is no reason to believe we can pass it, it would be a mistake to keep other initiatives from passing which would do a great deal of good for the United States and for the countries in our neighborhood and in Africa."

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