George W. Bush photo

Remarks in a Telephone Conversation With Senate Leaders

August 01, 2002

[The conversation is joined in progress.]

Trade Promotion Authority Legislation

The President. Chairman Baucus, and Grassley——

Senator Charles E. Grassley. We're here.

The President. And I understand Trent Lott is there as well.

Senator Trent Lott. Yes, Mr. President.

The President. Well, thank you three very much for your leadership. I want to congratulate you all for achieving an historic— historic moment in our Nation, because what you all have done is, you've made it much more likely somebody is going to be able to find work, and some farmer is going to be able to sell his product, and some nation is going to be able to trade with us, which will help lift them out of poverty.

I want to congratulate you very much for your fine work, on your bipartisan effort. Max and Chuck worked well together, and I'm just calling to congratulate you and thank you, for a grateful nation.

Senator Lott. Mr. President, this is Trent. I want to thank you for your leadership. You came to town saying this is something we needed to do; we needed to give this authority back to our President. And because you continued to push for it and emphasize what it will mean to American families and workers and farmers and ranchers and business men and women, we got it done.

And I want to say that I certainly agree when you give credit to Chairman Baucus and to Senator Grassley. They were very persistent. They worked with our House colleagues. Bill Thomas obviously did a great job. And your representatives here, Secretary Evans and Ambassador Zoellick, they were there, many times at all hours. Sometimes we were trying to bait them, but they did a great job. [Laughter] And I think this is a great moment for our country, and we can get back into promoting trade worldwide.

The President. Well, we really can. Thanks for saying that, Trent. I appreciate—it's a team effort, and the House gets a lot of credit, and Max and Bill Thomas stayed up late one night and got it done.

Senator Max Baucus. That's right, Mr. President, though I must say it was more than one night, regrettably. [Laughter]

The President. Well, that's why they've got August breaks.

Senator Baucus. Mr. President, you're our leader here. You got us going, and we all deeply appreciate that. I think this legislation is going to help restore American trade prestige worldwide, something we desperately needed. It also will help give the economy a boost. And third, it will help protect American workers displaced by trade and help build that consensus, for that is so needed for strong, aggressive trade legislation to open markets overseas for America.

I want to thank you so much for your strong, bipartisan approach to this. And I might say, Mr. President, we've now given you the authority, so we're kind of expecting you to kind of help negotiate these really good, strong trade agreements.

The President. Well, I——

Senator Baucus. And when you do, we're going to be there backing you up to help to make them as strong as they can be.

The President. Thanks, Max. I accept it. You've got Zoellick sitting right there. Of course, he's going to be our point man on trade, and he now—he's got his running shoes on. He's going to hit the ground running to bring us some good trade agreements, and I appreciate that very much.

Senator Baucus. Mr. President, I'll give you time to think about this, but do you have a nickname for this trade bill?

The President. Not yet. [Laughter]

Senator Baucus. I'm sure you will a little later on.

The President. Not yet, Maxie.

Senator Baucus. Okay.

Senator Lott. This is a jobs bill, isn't it?

The President. It's a jobs bill.

Senator Baucus. Okay.

The President. It sure is. How's Senator Grassley doing? Are you there, Senator?

Senator Grassley. Yes. Well, for sure, this is going to put America in the middle of all of the free trade agreements now that are being negotiated. And the United States won't be left out, as we have been so much of the 190 that have been approved. But most importantly, I appreciate your recognition—and I know you know it, but I'm glad you said it as well—the bipartisanship that you have to have to get anything done in the United States Senate. And that tradition is no stronger on any issue than on trade.

And working with Senator Baucus to make this happen has been a real privilege, and working with you as well. So thanks to both of you for your leadership.

The President. Well, thank you all very much. I'm proud of you. I look forward to signing the bill soon. And I look forward to bringing some trade agreements back to the Congress that will help workers and farmers and ranchers.

So, good work. You did your jobs. Go on home and take a break now.

Senator Grassley. You bet.

Senator Baucus. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you all. Bye-bye.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:05 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House.

George W. Bush, Remarks in a Telephone Conversation With Senate Leaders Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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