Baucus under pressure to reject fast track

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus  (D-Mont.) is being put under pressure from Democrats in his state to reject an extension of fast-track trade authority, which expires this summer.

The Montana state Senate, controlled by Democrats, this week approved a resolution asking Congress to create a replacement for fast track in which trade deals could be considered only in up-or-down votes.

Baucus has been open to granting the Bush administration new authority under certain conditions. A Baucus spokeswoman said this would include stronger labor and environmental provisions and a greater role for Congress.

Joel Barkin, executive director of the Progressive States Network (PSN), which lobbied for Democratic state Sen. Joe Elliott’s bill, said the Senate vote should be seen as a message to Baucus. He also contrasted the positions of Baucus and freshman Montana Democrat Sen. Jon Tester, whom PSN is honoring at its annual meeting in April. Tester has been quoted in the Sydney (Mont.) Herald as “against fast track.”