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Trade Pact Will Move Through Congress on 'Fast-Track' Plan

September 13, 1993| from a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The House and Senate will consider the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement under a "fast-track" procedure. The legislation will not be subject to amendment, and voting will have to be concluded within 90 legislative days of its introduction.

The trade accord is considered an agreement rather than a treaty. Treaties require approval by two-thirds of the members of the Senate. But the trade pact must be approved by simple majority votes in both houses.

Under routine congressional procedures, legislation is introduced, hearings are conducted, committees send bills to the floor, amendments are considered and votes are cast.

Under the fast-track procedure, which was devised to assure foreign governments that negotiated diplomatic agreements will not be subject to endless legislative debate and potential amendment, the hearings take place before formal legislation is submitted to Congress.

The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will begin hearings this week on the agreement. It is during this phase that last-minute horse-trading will take place. The White House hopes that the process will help it attract recalcitrant House members by offering such inducements as funding to retrain displaced workers.

Later, the Administration and its allies in Congress will prepare legislation to implement the pact.

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