By Vicki Needham - 07/19/12 05:15 PM EDT
House Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement on Thursday for moving a bill that would extend permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Russia and make a statement on Moscow's human-rights record, upping the bill's chances of clearing Congress before the August recess.
Top lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee announced that they will mark up the trade legislation next week.
Panel Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), trade subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and the subcommittee's top Democrat, Jim McDermott of Washington, collectively introduced legislation mirroring the measure approved Wednesday by the Senate Finance Committee.
"I am pleased that we were able to gain bipartisan support for this important legislation that supports U.S. jobs and exports, and I look forward to marking it up next week," Camp said.
The trade bill would repeal the 37-year-old Jackson-Vanik provision that violates international trade rules and include the Magnitsky human-rights legislation that has been approved by the House Foreign Relations Committee. The measures will likely be merged in the House Rules Committee before heading to the floor.
"The bill we are introducing today includes important additional measures relating to the enforcement of key provisions, ranging from the protection of intellectual property rights, to barriers to U.S. exports, and Russia's compliance with its WTO commitments," Levin said.
"At the same time, we must continue to use the opportunity of action on Russia PNTR to send a clear message to Russia of our deep concern about their continuing failure to work with the other nations of the world to address the violence against civilians in Syria," he said.
Levin called on Camp to adopt the Senate Finance bill after the panel gave unanimous approval to the combined package of the PNTR and human-rights bills on Wednesday.
Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said the overwhelmingly bipartisan support for the bill could break the stalemate in Congress and help lawmakers resolve the issue before the August recess.
Russia is set to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) next month; Congress would need to act before the summer break for U.S. exporters to enjoy the benefits of increased trade.
Christopher Wenk, head of international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, "this announcement helps moves the ball down the field."
"All good news," he told The Hill.
The White House, along with Camp and other House Republicans, had pushed for a clean PNTR bill, but the momentum was clearly shifting toward including a human-rights component.
—This story has been updated.