WASHINGTON - US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on Thursday that the House of Representatives will take up a bill to normalize trade relations with Russia this fall, if the Democratic-majority Senate and President Barack Obama "commit to support" passage before the end of September.
The White House has called normalizing trade relations with Russia its top legislative trade priority this year. Republicans have complained that Obama has not done enough to whip up Democratic support for the effort.
A top House Democrat said the trade bill would have strong support when it is brought up for a vote.
"We must work together to get Russia PNTR (Permanent Normal Trade Relations) done so American businesses aren't disadvantaged," said Representative Steny Hoyer, the second ranking Democrat in the House. "I'm confident that when Republicans schedule the bill, it will pass the House with a strong majority."
Business groups hoped Congress would pass the legislation before Russia enters the World Trade Organization on Aug. 22, otherwise, they said, there is a risk that US businesses and farmers will not share in all the market-opening concessions Russia made to join the world trade body.
But the US Congress is taking a month-long recess during August.