Senate Grants Bush Trade Powers, With Limits

By Agence France-Presse The U.S. Senate on May 23 granted President George W. Bush broad trade negotiating powers, but stopped short of granting his administration complete free rein in cutting international trade deals. In the landmark 66-30 vote, lawmakers granted the White House trade promotion authority, formerly known as "fast-track," for the first time since 1994. The special trading powers last until 2005, renewable for two years. However, the bill carries what several Republicans consider a "poison pill" amendment allowing Congress to remove provisions of any new trade agreements negotiated by the president's team that could overrule existing U.S. trade laws protecting U.S. domestic industries. The White House has threatened to veto the bill if it includes the amendment by the time the legislation arrives at the president's desk. The bill still has a way to go before it arrives on the president's desk to be signed into law. It faces an uphill battle in negotiations with House lawmakers on their differing version of the bill. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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