In his August 12 nationally syndicated Washington Post column, on the "Free Trade Divide" between President Bush and Democrats, David Broder asserted: "The House leadership cavalierly denied his request for the kind of 'fast-track' negotiating authority that past presidents have enjoyed." Broder was discussing the refusal of Democrats in Congress to renew Bush's trade promotion authority (formerly referred to as "fast-track authority"), which expired on June 30. But in fact, as Media Matters for America noted the last time Broder claimed that Bush's "predecessors have enjoyed" that authority, President Clinton was deprived of trade promotion authority for the majority of his time in office after it expired in 1994 during his first term. While the Clinton administration proposed a reauthorization of fast-track trade authority during the 104th and 105th Congresses, it was denied by the Republican-controlled Congress. The authority was not renewed by Congress until 2002 -- after Bush entered the White House.
From Broder's August 12 column:
The president was very clear about his views, saying that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab "will continue to work with the [Democratic] leadership and remind them of the importance of these trade bills. And they're now in charge of the Congress, and they'll have a chance to prove whether or not they believe in opening these markets. . . . It would be a huge mistake for the country if they don't."
But as the president acknowledged, the protectionist sentiment he has long opposed appears to be rising in Congress -- and among the Democratic presidential candidates as well.
The House leadership cavalierly denied his request for the kind of "fast-track" negotiating authority that past presidents have enjoyed. That procedure limits Congress to an up-or-down vote on future trade deals, rather than rewriting them in detail.