Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has made headlines again with his statement today that "there's not going to be a need for TPA," as Fast Track is known.
According to Congress Daily's story (entitled, "Baucus To Apply Brakes On Presidential Trade Authority):
Senate Finance Chairman Baucus said today he does not see a need to renew presidential trade negotiating authority unless the Bush administration comes forward with specific agreements that need what it calls trade promotion authority, also known as fast-track. Speaking to reporters ... Baucus noted that pending trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama and South Korea will receive fast-track protection, provided all are signed before the current trade negotiating authority expires June 30. Beyond those four, the Doha global trade negotiations are languishing and the administration has no other bilateral deals on tap. "There's not a new pending agreement, thus there's not going to be a need for TPA. ... Once subsequent trade agreements start coming down the pike, then there's going to be a need for TPA," Baucus said. His comments appeared to mark a distinct change in tone from earlier statements he has made calling for renewal of trade negotiating authority as an important step to move the trade agenda forward.
This latest Baucus statement comes after the Montana Senate overwhelmingly passed an anti-Fast Track resolution.
And it's worth pointing out that Fast Track actually ISN'T necessary for trade agreements to be passed (witness 2000-01's Jordan FTA debate, along with hundreds of trade pacts passed during the Clinton years), and that it actually still is in the U.S. Constitution (that's right, the big one) that it's Congress' responsibility to set the terms of trade policy.