Published: July 26, 2012
The House Ways and Means Committee this morning voted out legislation to approve permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia. For jobs and economic growth, let's get the bill passed by next week.
The committee's voice vote makes possible action by the full House and Senate before Congress goes on its August recess next week. The schedule is packed and the urge to leave strong, but the arguments for swift action are overwhelming. (BRT news release on committee approval)
As Business Roundtable Chairman Jim McNerney, CEO of Boeing, and Caterpillar's Doug Oberhelman, who heads BRT's trade efforts, wrote in a letter to lawmakers today:
Next month Russia will join the World Trade Organization and start to significantly open its markets to other countries. Congress can either pass PNTR now so that, from the outset, the United States can fully benefit from better trade relations with Russia, or Congress can fail to act and put American companies and workers at a competitive disadvantage in Russia. That’s why your acting with a sense of urgency on this issue is so important.
Momentum is certainly building. The Senate Finance Committee last week voted 24-0 to grant Russia the trade status. On Wednesday, 15 state governors sent Congress a letter calling for approval before the August recess:
As Governors, we know from first-hand experience in our states that expanding opportunities for international trade and attracting foreign investment are essential to promoting U.S. economic growth and creating new and better jobs. Russia’s impending membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) offers a significant opportunity to increase our trade and investment with the world’s ninth largest economy.
The Congress and the White House continue to talk about how important it is for us to do things to help the U.S. economy and help U.S. companies. This is something we could do right now.
Did we mention that momentum is building? Bill Lane, head of government relations for Caterpillar, joined the BRT on the briefing Wednesday. He observed:
We sort of started this a while back thinking in terms of thinking getting before the recess as being a very long putt. Then there the was recognition that it may be a long putt, but at least we're on the green.