73 House GOP Freshmen Call for PNTR with Russia
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Once again, the 112th Congress has shown its colors as one of the most pro-trade in memory. In fact, the “People’s House” itself is demonstrating real leadership in the fight to open overseas markets to U.S. goods and services — with the freshman class leading the way.
After the November 2010 elections, some commentators speculated that the large Republican freshman class might turn out to be inward-looking and isolationist.
They couldn’t have been more wrong. On March 1, 2011, 67 of the 87 Republican House freshmen signed a letter to President Obama urging him to send the trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea to Congress for consideration. It was an important milestone on the road to their successful approval in October.
Today, we see the House GOP freshmen again leading the way. This time, an even larger number — 73 of the 87 Republican freshmen — have signed a letter to the president expressing their support for Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia. The letter reads in part:
Russia’s entry into the WTO has been negotiated over nearly two decades by Administrations led by Republicans and Democrats alike to ensure Russia will open its agricultural, manufacturing and service markets and abide by core international trade rules. With Russia poised to join the WTO before summer’s end, the Administration and Congress need to act quickly to authorize Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia and graduate Russia from the Jackson-Vanik provisions first enacted in 1974.
The letter goes on to acknowledge significant concerns about some aspects of the broader U.S.-Russia relationship, but notes “we will only hurt ourselves and lose out on economic opportunities and needed jobs to our competitors around the world if we do not act quickly to remove unnecessary barriers to a full trade relationship with Russia.” It concludes:
We stand ready to work with you to achieve this goal and invite you to work with us, shoulder to shoulder, at all levels in order to swiftly move the necessary legislation through both houses of Congress.
The Chamber applauds their leadership, particularly Congressman Bill Long (R-MO), who led the charge. If Congress fails to act before the August recess to approve PNTR, Russia will be free to deny U.S. workers, farmers, and companies the full benefits of its reforms. America risks being left behind again as European and Asian companies build on their head start in the world’s ninth largest market.
The good news is that the outlook just got brighter — thanks to leadership from the House freshmen.