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Clinton Makes Fast Track Plea To Congress


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Nov. 5) -- Urging lawmakers to extend him so-called fast track trade authority, President Bill Clinton made the case today that it was "the right thing for America."

Trying to shore up support for the legislation among House Democrats, Clinton announced a $1.2 billion aid package aimed at helping American workers who might lose their jobs as a result of global trade agreements.

"If we turn our backs now on trade and fail to seize the opportunities of the global economy, our competitors will eagerly take our place. That is an America-last strategy. It's unacceptable. It won't work," Clinton said during an Oval Office ceremony this morning.

Addressing criticism that free trade could hurt American workers, Clinton said, "The rejection of fast track won't create any new jobs or raise any American incomes. It won't advance environmental or labor standards abroad. It would reduce our ability to do both, and I think that is very important."

The president said the key to successfully expanding the U.S. economy is giving a "helping hand to workers at home and a strengthened hand to our negotiators as they open markets abroad." Clinton is seeking the authority to negotiate trade agreeements that Congress could vote up or down, but not ammend.

Clinton announced that $750 million over the next five years would be committed to retraining dislocated workers. Another $447 million would be added to the existing Trade Adjustment Assistance program of income support and retraining that was created to help workers who were dislocated after the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement.

A contingency fund would be also set up to aid workers and communities hurt by trade. Clinton also said a commission would be established to monitor changes for workers and in the economy caused by trade.

Citing his economic record, Clinton concluded, "I just ask the American people to give me the benefit of the doubt on this."

The future of fast-track legislation is still up in the air. The bill cleared a crucial hurdle in the Senate Tuesday when senators voted 69-31 to limit delaying tactics.

A clearer message will be sent by the House on Friday when a floor vote on the measure is set. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has warned that it may fall short. "I think it is going to be very hard," Gingrich said. An estimated 150 Democrats are needed to pass the bill.

In Other News:

Wednesday Nov. 5, 1997

Former Gore Aide Questioned By Lawmakers
Lessons From Tuesday's Voting?
IRS Reform Bill Skates Through House
Clinton Makes Fast Track Plea To Congress

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Education Testing Deal Achieved, Says Committee Chairman

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