Chemical Treaty Had Political Costs in Exchange for Ratification, Concessions May Come out of Budget

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton went all-out to win Senate ratification of the chemical weapons treaty, and now the costs of his concessions could begin showing up in other areas - like the budget.

Clinton's effort followed a historical pattern in which presidents, especially those in second terms, expend enormous amounts of political capital to win treaty fights.

"It's one of the things that gets you into the history books," said Fred Greenstein, a political scientist at Princeton University. The Senate's ratification of the treaty to ban the production of chemical and biological weapons was an important and hard-fought victory for Clinton. But, in exchange for enhancing his prestige on the world stage, Clinton may find that he has relinquished some of his options for dealing with the GOP-led Congress. Mounting a major lobbying campaign, Clinton sent teams of Cabinet members to Capitol Hill, made direct appeals to wavering senators, showcased former President George Bush's support for the treaty and won the support of 1996 GOP rival Bob Dole and of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. "He was on the phone with individual senators," said Lott, whose final-day support for the treaty helped push it over the top. "I wish he'd get on the phone each day and work with individual senators on the budget." Lott's words signaled that he now expects budget concessions from Clinton. A Bill To Be Paid "It's going to cost him something," said Steven Wayne, a political scientist at Georgetown University. "You don't get anything for free. The support of Dole and Lott will come at some cost, probably in the budget negotiations." Even though Lott has denied any direct linkage, he told reporters Friday, "I hope he (Clinton) will make some really bold move on the budget." Pressure is now on Clinton to move more in the direction of tax cuts favored by Republicans. At a news conference Friday, Clinton called the treaty vote "an indication of what we can do" when working together in the national interest, and said he hoped a similar agreement could be reached on a balanced budget plan. Apart from how the treaty debate might affect the budget talks, a dministration allies also are concerned that Senate conservatives who voted for the treaty may try to make amends with the right by opposing the president's renewal of trade benefits for China. …


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