In a blow to environmentalists and unions, Republicans in the U.S. House pushed through a plan yesterday to give President Bush broad authority to negotiate trade agreements. The bill, which was approved by a single vote, would take away from Congress the power to amend trade deals brokered by the administration; lawmakers could merely vote yea or nay on the pacts. Enviro groups and unions fear their concerns would receive short shrift under such a system. Democrats also argued that the bill would enable foreign investors to challenge environmental regulations in the U.S.. To win the vote, the White House and GOP leadership played the terrorism card and doled out favors to any fence-sitting House members. A similar bill is expected to pass easily in the Senate.
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