Top senator eager to clear Russia trade bill

But the bill diverges on the human rights portion. 

The House opted to include the language approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee that specifically calls for denying U.S. visas and freezing the assets of Russian officials involved in the 2009 death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, a much narrower focus than Cardin's bill. 

"I don't think there's a disagreement that the preferred route is global," Cardin said. 

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"The House is doing Magnitsky specific so the question is what concerns do they have if it goes global, and they have not expressed that to us."

So far, he hasn't run into any opposition to make changes to the bill once it arrives in the Senate. 

He said several senators have asked Majority Leader Harry Harry Reid (D-Nev.) take up the Senate measure, which was approved unanimously by the Senate Finance Committee in July. 

"The one thing I want to be clear about is I want to get this bill to the finish line and I know we don't have a lot of time," he said. "I think we can get it done quickly in the Senate."

"How does PNTR and Magnitsky fit into the schedule — that's above my pay grade."

The measure has to pass the House first because it is considered a revenue-generating bill. 

During a House Rules Committee meeting on Tuesday night, Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said he supported a bill that covered global human rights violations. 

Congress will have a few weeks in December to get the bill sent to President Obama's desk in what will be more than three months after Moscow joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

"Now is the time for Congress to act and help benefit U.S. companies and workers," David Thomas, vice president for trade policy at the Business Roundtable, said in a blog post on Thursday.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is another group that has canvassed Capitol Hill for months, pushing for passage of the bill. 

On Thursday they called on Congress to act quickly to ensure U.S. firms don't lose anymore ground to Europe and China in the Russian market. 

The bill will give manufacturers the opportunity to send a billions of dollars in products to Russia, including airplanes, locomotives, medical equipment and machinery. 

They are expecting a strong vote in the House on Friday for the bill that lawmakers were wary to take up before the elections. 

The Obama administration announced Tuesday evening that it strongly supports the measure, which also normalizes trade relations with Moldova.