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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bush Signs Fast Track Legislation

Aired August 6, 2002 - 12:03   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now we want to take you all live to the White House, to the East Room. We have been talking about this all morning. The president is touting one of his biggest legislative victories now. He is getting ready to sign his Trade Promotion Authority Act, also known as fast track. It gives the White House the authority to enter into trade agreements that Congress can accept or reject, but not amend. Big move for the president. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... Max Baucus. Max did fantastic work to get this trade bill through the Senate, and was then able to work with Chairman Thomas.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

Chairman Thomas was heroic in the House. He was steadfast in his support for trade. And I appreciate his leadership on this issue. And I want to thank both members of the United States Congress, one Democrat, one Republican, who put their country ahead of their parties to do what was right for the people of this country.

You two deserve a lot of congratulations.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank Senator Hatch, who was a conferee and a member of the Finance Committee. Thanks for coming, Senator.

I want to thank my fellow Texan, Tom DeLay, the best vote counter in the history of the United States Congress.

(APPLAUSE)

After all, he was able to triple...

(LAUGHTER)

... the vote margin on final passage.

(LAUGHTER)

I appreciate so very much Cal Dooley and a guy I call Jeff, William Jefferson, Congressmen from California and Louisiana. And I want to thank them for their work as well. They led the Democrats in the House of Representatives, many of whom are here today, to do what's right for our country. And, again, I appreciate your leadership and I appreciate your work and I appreciate your help.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank Ambajadora (ph) A-Baki from Ecuador. I want to thank you for coming.

I also want to thank Carlos Alzamora from Peru and all the other ambassadors who are here. I want to appreciate your hard work on sending the message of trade to members of our Congress. I want to thank you for your diligence, and I want to thank your presidents for their care and concern about this incredibly important initiative, not only for Americans, but for workers all around the world. Thank you all for coming.

(APPLAUSE)

With trade promotion authority, the trade agreements I negotiate will have an up or down vote in Congress, giving other countries the confidence to negotiate with us. Five presidents before me had this advantage, but since the authority elapsed in 1994, other nations and regions have pursued new trade agreements, while America's trade policy was stuck in park.

With each passing day, America has lost trading opportunities, and the jobs and earnings that go with them. Starting now, America is back at the bargaining table in full force.

PHILLIPS: President of the United States, any minute now getting ready to sign the Trade Promotion Authority Act, touting it and thanking all the people involved with making this happen. We are going to bring in CNN White House Correspondent Kelly Wallace. She has been talking about this all morning too. Big day for the president, quite a victory for him, yes -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Quite a victory indeed, Kyra, because ever since President Bush came into the White House, he has been pushing for this. The president joking a bit when he talked about how the margin in the House tripled, but take a listen to the numbers. It only passed by one vote last year, and then it was really stalled in the Congress. It passed only by three votes in the House of Representatives. Passed a little bit by a bigger margin in the Senate.

But it is an important priority. The president says he needs this authority to be able to negotiate these trade agreements, to bring more jobs to the United States, without Congress being able to amend them down the road. You had a lot concern from lawmakers, Democrats, even some Republicans in some textile states concerned that jobs would go from the United States to other countries overseas. Very concerned about the impact on American companies, but in end, members of Congress supporting this bill.

One way, Kyra, to get Democrats to support it, a multi-billion dollar initiative to help any workers who lose their jobs because of any trade deals -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. And also a couple of other things going on. He goes in for his physical today. A man who runs a seven minute mile, he has got to be all right.

WALLACE: Yes, not a worry from Mr. President on this one. He had the physical, actually, earlier today, and when he came back to the White House, he kind of gave everybody a thumbs-up. One of his doctors, in fact, said it was, -- quote -- "unbelievable."

Last year after his physical, he got a report saying he was in outstanding health. We are expecting that same report today, but no official word just yet -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Now he is going to be heading to Crawford, Texas, not always a vacation, though. The president is always on call.

WALLACE: Always on call, always working, White House aides want us to know, and they are a little sensitive, Kyra, sensitive that people are talking about the president taking a month-long vacation at a time of growing concerns about a sluggish economy, concerns about the possibility of future terrorist attacks, so they keep stressing the working part of this vacation, how he will be traveling around the country, talking about issues such as the economy, he will be doing some fund-raising, and some campaigning for Republicans before the November elections, and then, Kyra, of course, on Monday he has this big economic -- forum, excuse me, in Waco, Texas, trying to boost consumer confidence and talk about the economy -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Kelly Wallace, thanks so much, see you again next hour.

WALLACE: Sure.

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