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A battle over plant closings imperils the trade bill

The provisions are complex enough to fill 1,000 pages. Among other things, the 1988 omnibus trade bill would give the President special authority to conduct international negotiations and strengthen his ability to retaliate against "pervasive" barriers raised by foreign countries against U.S. imports. But the debate on the bill is being dominated by a rather extraneous and distinctly secondary issue: Should manufacturers be forced to give employees 60 days' notice before closing a plant?

Ronald Reagan last week vowed that if a bill containing the plant-closing provision "is unloaded on my desk, I will stamp it REJECT and ship it back...

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