This Congress Should Pass the Bipartisan Vietnam Trade Bill

I am deeply disappointed the House failed Monday night to pass what should be non-controversial legislation granting PNTR status to Vietnam.  I introduced this very straight-forward legislation back in June and was pleased to gain the cosponsorship of many of my Democrat colleagues.  In addition, the extra section added last week only serves to codify a process that aims to help U.S. companies if the Vietnamese are found to be illegally subsidizing their exports and was shown to members of both parties last week.

Vietnam has already been given the green light to join as the WTO's 150th member.  And the U.S. is the last major country to take this important step, which means the bill's failure to pass this week will only hurt U.S. companies and U.S. workers.

President Bush has now left for the APEC Summit in Vietnam without passage of this important legislation, thereby damaging the U.S.'s credibility in global trade issues.  If we are to be successful in reviving the Doha process to reduce subsidy levels worldwide - or begin new processes to open markets to U.S. farmers, manufacturers and service providers - Congress must  pass this important bill.

During floor consideration, the bill was supported by the leadership of both parties.  That, in my opinion, is the very definition of bipartisanship.  I hope Congress can do better when we reconvene in December.