President Bush has said boosting trade is essential if America is to create new jobs and build up its sagging economy. Mr. Bush is calling on Congress to move quickly to give him enhanced trade negotiating authority when it returns to work next week.
The president went to the southern port of New Orleans to press his case.
"I'm worried about jobs. And I believe if you trade more, there are more jobs available for hard working Americans," he said.
Dock workers and supporters surrounded Mr. Bush on the speaker's podium as he appealed for action from congress.
"I know we have got the best workers in the world. I know we can make the best products in the world. And therefore, we ought to have free and fair trade around the world," he said.
Like President Clinton before him, Mr. Bush is calling on the legislature to grant him expanded trade negotiating authority. It is a procedure commonly known as "fast track." And it strips the legislature of its ability to change trade agreements when they are submitted by the president for congressional approval.
The House of Representatives has already agreed to give the president "fast track" authority. But the Senate has yet to act. President Bush said there is no time to waste, saying "fast track" will encourage more countries to expand trade with the United States.
"This isn't a Republican issue. This isn't a Democrat issue. Trade is a jobs issue. And the United States Senate needs to hear the voices of the working people and get me a bill I can sign," he said.
New Orleans was the last stop on a two-day, three-state tour designed to promote the president's domestic agenda. His itinerary took him from the farm towns and factories of the Midwest, down the Mississippi River to Louisiana. Mr. Bush said he wanted to dramatize the importance of trade to America by following the route of agricultural exports from the field to the port.