The House does not now have the votes to give President Clinton the authority he wants to negotiate expanded trade treaties, House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday.
“If the vote were held tomorrow morning, fast-track would clearly lose,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Gingrich, like a majority of Republicans, supports giving Clinton the authority enjoyed by presidents for more than two decades, to negotiate trade treaties without fear that Congress will later amend them. Fast track forces Congress to vote a simple yes or no on trade agreements.
But many Democrats, citing environmental reasons and the loss of American jobs, oppose fast track and Clinton on Saturday acknowledged in a speech that he had “completely failed” to convince a majority of Americans about the importance of trade to America’s economic development.
Clinton wants trade negotiation authority to open talks next spring on a hemispheric free trade zone aimed at increasing U.S. exports to Latin America.
The House plans to vote on fast track authority next Friday, and both sides say that Clinton will have to lobby hard in the coming days to pick up the 70 Democrats needed to pass the measure.