Fast Track Derailed

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The President says fast track "is not dead." But it ain't exactly living. Clinton stayed up until the wee small hours on Sunday but still had to concede defeat after House Speaker Newt Gingrich informed him they were about six votes short.

"We may not see this again until 2001," says TIME Washington Deputy Bureau Chief J.F.O. McAllister. "The feeling is that it's just not going to be able to pass in an election year."

Indeed, the only way the controversial trade measure is likely to beat the millennium is if the Gephardt clique takes a beating in the 1998 races an unlikely scenario, considering the heaps of cash that Big Labor offers its stalwarts.

In the end, Clinton was able to secure only about 40 Democratic votes one-quarter of the total complement and strong Republican support was unable to carry him.

Surprise statesman of the day was Gingrich, who a rueful Mike McCurry thanked for "working tirelessly" on GOP support. Upon pulling the bill, Newt then proceeded to do his imitation of Dole on Bosnia, suggesting a defeat "would have sent a very very wrong signal" to the world, especially with U.S.-Iraq tensions running high. Could this possibly portend Gingrich vs. Gephardt in 2000?