China Trade Up For Grabs

President Bush
President Bush speaks about the death of al-Qaida in Iraq's leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Thursday, June 8, 2006, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

The battle in a bitterly divided House of Representatives over trade ties with China entered its final week with the Clinton administration and Republican leaders still scrambling for the votes to ensure the trade bill's passage.

"We don't have the 218 to pass it and the opposition (does) not have 218 at this point to stop it," Commerce Secretary William Daley, the White House's point man in the trade fight, told CBS News' Face The Nation.

The AFL-CIO's secretary-treasurer, Richard Trumka hinted that labor may offer little political help to Democrats who support the trade deal.

"This is a very, very serious issue with our membership, and I don't think anybody can tell you right now (what) is the political fallout from it," Trumka told Face The Nation.

Trumka thinks that China should not be a part of the World Trade Organization (WTO), insisting that the agreement is not about sending U.S. products to China. Instead, Trumka sees it as an ethically, morally, and economically bad agreement all together.

"It's about relocating American production facilities in China and then having American corporations use it as a staging platform so they can service other markets." said Trumka.

Trumka said it is a fallacy to argue that rejecting the China trade bill will mean excluding one-fifth of the world's population and building a wall around them.

"We're not saying, 'Exclude them.' Right now they have most favored nation status with us. We're saying, 'Keep the vote.' We vote on that every year."

"We have a $70 billion deficit with China that's cost us over 800,000 jobs already, but we're not saying, 'Isolate them.' We're saying, 'Keep it the way it is right now,'" Trumka added. "Let Congress vote every year so if China does something outrageous, if they deny or violate the agreement, just like they violated the last four trade agreements that we've signed with them, then we have a lever."

Daley said the trade bill will help bring new ideas and change to China.

"We think it's a good thing. It is encouraging to see China begin to change, and we should take the steps to make sure that we encourage them."

Daley added the bill includes protections for American workers.

"We've gotten the ability to use our non-dumping methodology for another 15 years. So we have strong protections in this agreement. But make no mistake, we do not hide the fact that this will be difficult for China to make this transition to a more open economy."

There are still a number of undecideds among both the Democrats and the Republicans. It looks like the Republicans need about 150 votes and the Democrats need from 70 to 80 votes for the trade bill to pass.