“Fast-Track” Derailed

“Fast-Track” Derailed

This fall President Clinton made “fast-track” negotiating authority—whereby Congress must vote yes or no on trade agreements presented by the president, with no amendments allowed—his top legislative priority. The prospects for passage looked good. Every major newspaper supported it; the business community lobbied for it; the president was at the peak of his popularity; and he pledged to work with the Republican majority in Congress in order to pass it.

Yet in a stunning setback for the president, fast-track was defeated. Most embarrassing for the president was that more than 80 percent of Democrats in the House of Representatives opposed him. Never before in this century has a president been rejected by his own party in such large numbers.

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