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US Congress Gives Bush 'Fast Track' Trade Powers


The U.S. Congress has agreed to give President Bush expanded trade-negotiating powers. By a vote of 64-to-34, the Senate completed action on trade promotion authority and gave the president a big legislative victory.

President Bush campaigned hard for the trade bill, saying it would ultimately boost U.S. exports, create new jobs and spur economic growth.

Shortly after the final vote in the Senate chamber, he called lawmakers who helped craft the legislation. "I want to congratulate you all for achieving an historic moment," he said.

Under the bill, Congress can only accept or reject trade deals submitted by the president. It can not change them.

Every president since Gerald Ford in the mid-1970s has had this negotiating edge. President Bill Clinton failed to revive it when it expired in 1994.

The Bush administration made revival of trade promotion authority once known as "fast track" a legislative priority. The White House said it would give the president's negotiators greater credibility abroad and would enhance their ability to promote free trade.

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