With the administration expected on Friday to submit its request to extend fast-track trading authority, insiders are suggesting that President Bush might seek a long-term deal of four years or more instead of a simple year-long extension.
Such a deal would give both the president and his successor the ability to negotiate trade deals and then win an up or down Senate vote without amendments. The administration must give a 90-day notice that it plans to seek an extension; the current Trade Promotion Authority expires in June.
The White House anticipates Democratic opposition to any extension because party leaders want a role in the deal-making and final agreements. Some are also mindful that the former GOP majority wouldn't give former President Clinton the trade authority for several years.
As a result, the administration has come up with a unique negotiation tactic, which suggests that a long-term extension would aide a Democratic president from the start if one were elected to succeed Bush. "It would help a Democratic president," said an administration official.
By Paul Bedard