On the Slow Track
Ever since NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Alliance formed in 1993, international trade policy has been a hot-button political issue.
After rebuffing the White House in 1997, Congress voted again in 1998 to reject attempts to give President Clinton authority to negotiate "fast track" trade agreements with other countries.
The enhanced authority that Clinton sought would have given him and his successors power to bring completed trade treaties to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote. No amendments and no having to go back to renegotiate bits and pieces.
But the fast track debate was about much more than procedure. It became a referendum on the basic direction of American trade policy. On the issue of free trade vs. protectionism. On whether NAFTA was a good thing or a bad thing for Americans. On what borders mean in this day and age.
President Clinton's supporters in this fight were his traditional foes: Republicans and big-business leaders, who support opening global markets. But the issue found him at odds with some of his staunchest allies: labor unions and liberal Democrats, who fear the loss of jobs to countries that treat workers poorly and abuse the environment.
This special report includes key stories from The Washington Post, as well as a selection of opinions and editorials. You can also browse our resources and links, including a list of Web sites for and against "fast track."
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