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Already losing support in Congress?

Hillary Wicai Nov 14, 2006


SCOTT JAGOW: Later today, President Bush takes off for a week in Asia. He’ll be stopping in Vietnam among other places. The president hoped Congress would give him a gift to bring over: a vote normalizing trade relations with Vietnam. But the House rejected the measure. Hillary Wicai reports.

HILLARY WICAI: It was an embarrassing turn of events for the Administration, and analyst Robert Scott with the Economic Policy Institute says the vote might be a glimpse into the future of free trade.

He says the president has lost influence with the base of his own party because they’re feeling the heat from constituents on trade issues.

And once the Democrats take over Congress, trade deals could be even more contentious. Scott says more members have shifted into supporting what they call fair trade.

ROBERT SCOTT: They’re looking for deals that offer protections for labor rights and the environment. And I think when all is said and done they’re going to begin to address issues like exchange rate manipulation as well.

The vote last night required a two-thirds majority. Supporters say they’ll try again, as soon as tomorrow, when a simple majority will be all that’s needed for passage.

In Washington, I’m Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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