FAST TRACK PLANS IN GEAR
WASHINGTON — Business backers of President Clinton’s congressional request for fast-track negotiating authority for trade pacts unveiled plans Wednesday for a nationwide television campaign to win votes for the controversial effort.
Their battleground will be in congressional districts where members are undecided or untested on trade issues and will consist of ads in 30 markets.
The National Retail Federation is part of the 500-company effort. NRF also will mount its own independent campaign, consisting of lobbying members of Congress and sending a letter from retail chief executives to Capitol Hill.
In the opposite camp, organized labor started its campaign Wednesday in 14 congressional districts to fight fast track and plans to spend $1 million in the first week on radio and TV spots.
The business lobby would not disclose how much it was planning to spend. The Business Roundtable, a separate business group, is seeking $3 million from members for its pro-fast-track campaign.
Under fast track, Congress can only approve or reject trade pacts with a strict timetable and cannot amend them. Fast track is seen by supporters as a necessity, if U.S. trade officials are to negotiate with credibility.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans did not give Clinton’s fast-track plan a warm welcome, objecting to provisions on labor and environment.