President Bush signs legislation into law Tuesday that expands his power to negotiate trade deals. The president campaigned hard for the measure, which cleared Congress last week. The bill gives the president the power to submit trade pacts to Congress for a quick yes-or-no vote.
Passage of the legislation was a big victory for the Bush administration. Congress gave him what lawmakers denied Bill Clinton, the ability to negotiate deals knowing lawmakers could not make changes. The president has said this enhanced negotiating authority will lead to increased markets for U.S. exports and, ultimately, more American jobs.
In the near term, it will enable the administration to send congress long awaited free-trade pacts with Chile and Singapore. In the long run, the Bush administration believes it will help pave the way for a new global deal in the World Trade Organization.
Labor and environmental groups opposed the legislation. In an effort to ease their concerns a bit, congress added language extending help to American workers who lose their jobs to foreign imports. They also required increased consultation on trade deals between the White House and Capitol Hill.