WASHINGTON — Supporters of China joining the World Trade Organization picked up a big endorsement Tuesday when Rep. Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) added his name to the list of House members who will vote next week to make China’s favorable trade status permanent.
The bipartisan, pro-China-WTO camp in Congress and the Clinton administration are scrambling for more commitments from Democrats to amass the 218 votes needed in the 435-member body. Granting China Permanent Normal Trade Relations status is considered key if U.S. companies are to avail themselves of lowered Chinese trade barriers.
Democratic Whip David Bonior (Mich.), leader of the anti-PNTR camp with Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D., Mo.), said he expected Rangel’s decision to “take one or two” Democratic votes with him. However, Bonior told reporters the anti-PNTR side was still in the game, pressing undecided members. He said at least two-thirds of the 220 Democrats are expected to be on the anti-PNTR side, including 30 members who in previous years supported renewing normal trade relations status annually.