(CNSNews.com) - House Republican Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) sent President Clinton a letter calling on him to "repudiate" threats by some House Democrats to kill China free trade legislation if a pro-trade business group refuses to endorse an incumbent Democrat.
Armey wrote the letter to Clinton after reading in "Roll Call", a Capitol Hill newspaper, that "House Democrats are warning the business lobby that China trade legislation will likely die this year if the US Chamber of Commerce follows through with their plans to endorse the probable Republican opponent of vulnerable freshman Representative Baron Hill (D-IN).
Armey also said, "Mister President, this is cause for alarm."
"Just last month you invited congressional leaders to the White House to encourage bipartisan cooperation on efforts to promote free trade that includes providing permanent normal trade relations with China. The Republicans accepted your offer to put aside partisan differences and work together with the understanding that you would secure Democratic support," Armey said.
"The Democrat's scheme to extort endorsements in exchange for votes on the House floor jeopardizes bipartisan free trade efforts. This is a risky scheme that will hurt farmers, factory workers, the high tech industry and the poor people of Asia. You must repudiate such efforts," Armey said.
Armey also thinks Clinton should repudiate the House Democrats because free and open trade with China is the best way to turn China into a free and open society.
"If we care about freedom as well as prosperity, democracy as well as economic opportunity, we must expand our trade with the Chinese people. You know well, Mister President, that if the obstructionists succeed, it will not be Republicans or Democrats who suffer, but the American people, our nation's prosperity and freedom," Armey said.
The White House on Monday said it had not received Armey's letter. However, Deputy White House press secretary Mark Kitchens told CNSNews.com that President Clinton has placed it on top of his agenda because it's "very important to him."
"He made his stance clear on where he stands with China and PNTR (Permanent Normal Trade Relations) and its inclusion in the WTO (World Trade Organization). We believe this is in the nation's best interests, and getting into political partisanship and finger- pointing is just something we are not going to do," Kitchens told CNSNews.com.