Fast Track Legislation Is In Jeopardy
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 23) -- Hopes for the passage of the so-called "fast-track" trade legislation this session appear to be fading. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer is refusing to bring the bill to the floor unless President Bill Clinton can secure support from 70 congressional Democrats
In a letter to the president dated Oct. 22, Archer (R-Texas) asked for a list of 70 Democrats who might vote for fast track to Congress as soon as possible or the proposal would "remain in deep trouble."
"As dedicated [as] I am to the passage of this important legislation this fall, it may not be possible without a stronger showing of bipartisan support," Archer wrote.
While they have counted between 40 and 50 likely Democratic allies, White House aides concede they are unlikely to rally a full 70. Organized labor has been aggressively lobbying Democrats to vote against the legislation.
House GOP leaders say they can only guarantee the votes of 150 Republicans, well short of the necessary 218 for the bill's passage.
Archer criticized the Democrats on his committee for not supporting the proposal. "It's unfortunate that so many Democrats refused to give you the tools you need to keep this nation on a prosperous track," Archer wrote.
"If we proceed with a floor vote without sufficient support, the cause of free trade could be seriously harmed by an embarrassing defeat," he concluded.
The trade bill is scheduled to go to the Senate floor vote next week.
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Thursday Oct. 23, 1997
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