Trade Authority Vote Could Come This Month

By John S. McClenahen By the end of July, the U.S. House of Representatives may vote on so-called trade promotion authority (TPA). Previously known as fast-track authority, TPA would permit President George Bush to submit trade agreements the U.S. has negotiated with other nations to Congress for a simple up-or-down vote. No amendments would be allowed. The White House has been without such power since 1994, and the Bush Administration has made TPA a legislative priority. Some 50 bills relating to TPA have been introduced so far this year. But -- notably for what it does not include -- the measure to watch is H.R. 2149, "The Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2001," introduced June 13 by Rep. Philip M. Crane (R, Ill.), chairman of the Ways & Means Committee's subcommittee on trade. It does not include controversial language tying trade agreements to environmental and worker standards in foreign countries. Though seemingly more flexible than they were two years ago, U.S. manufacturers still resist the idea of making the standards a mandatory condition of U.S. trade.

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