GOP Leader Confident of China PNTR Passage

By Bruce Sullivan | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - One of the top Republican leaders in the House of Representatives said Sunday that he expects the House to grant China permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) when they vote on the legislation this week.

"It's been really tough to get the votes on this," said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) on Fox News Sunday. "But we're doing really well. We're moving toward that magic number of 218 votes and I think, in the end, we'll be able to pass it."

The House is expected to vote on Wednesday on the legislation, which has been strongly opposed by organized labor and many human rights advocates. Two-thirds of the House Democrats are expected to vote against PNTR, saying that the measure would cost hundreds of thousands of American workers their jobs. Additionally, as many as one-third of House Republicans may vote against PNTR.

The bill has the backing of Republican leaders in both the House and Senate, plus the White House. Although passage in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 10-seat majority, is almost a certainty, getting the necessary 218 votes in the House is a different matter.

Passage of PNTR would do away with annual reviews of China's trade status and permanently guarantee that Chinese products enjoy the same low U.S. tariffs as goods from virtually every other nation.