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CNN Today

Capitol Hill Buzzing with China Trade Vote Tomorrow

Aired May 23, 2000 - 1:03 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In Washington, both sides still are battling for support ahead of tomorrow's anticipated House vote on permanent normal trade relations with China.

CNN congressional correspondent Chris Black is keeping a close watch on the activity up on Capitol Hill, joins us now with the latest -- Chris.

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, supporters of the China trade bill expect to get another burst of momentum later this afternoon when as many as nine formerly undecided Democratic House members are expected to endorse the legislation. This group includes at least five Democrats from Texas, several members of the Congressional Black Caucus and several Hispanic lawmakers.

Now you can see the influence of two very key people in this announcement: the first is Congressman Charlie Rangel, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee who came out for the legislation last week; and a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus who has been talking one on one to a number of his colleagues in the final days before this vote; the other influential person is Congressman -- is President Clinton, who has been giving -- making a first class lobbying effort from the White House. Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York, who's one of the members who's expected to endorse the bill later today has been the recipient of a first class lobbying effort by the president in the last few week that included a ride on Air Force One and an invitation to last night's state dinner for the South African President.

Earlier today, the president took advantage of an announcement at the White House, of a deal between himself and House Speaker Dennis Hastert on tax credits for poor cities and rural areas, to make yet another pitch for the China trade bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The consequences of this vote will be felt after I am no longer president. But our country fought three wars in Asia in the last half-century. We ought to give our children a chance to have a different 50 years ahead of us. No one knows what the future holds, but we do know which course is likely to give us a more peaceful future. It's the sort of thing I hope everyone will think about before they cast that vote tomorrow. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Now on the other side: The point man for the opposition, the House Democratic Whip David Bonior, argued once again today, that permanent normal trade relations with China would cost the United States a lot of jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DAVID BONIOR (D), MICHIGAN: The China trade deal won't generate new customers for medium-sized and small businesses, but it will provide a new source of cheap labor for big business. And that may be good for the bottom line, but it won't help America's.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Now you can't walk more than a few feet on the House side of Capitol Hill without stumbling across somebody who's lobbying either for or against this legislation. The AFL-CIO has flown in their state labor leaders, the -- there are CEOs from corporations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has assigned a lobbyist to each individual undecided House member -- Lou.

WATERS: Chris, you mentioned the president's first class lobbying effort, aside from the invitations to ride on Air Force and the state dinners and such, what kind of deals are being made for these votes? can you give us a sense of that?

BLACK: Well, there's definitely a little bit of horse trading going on, Lou, less than you might imagine. But what I am told, both by members of Congress and by White House sources is that the Congressmen and women are taking advantage of this opportunity to speak one on one with the president to remind him of things that they want for their districts, a weather station here, an oil pipeline there. And the president is listening to them and eager to help as much as he can. But most of the horse trading is on measures that are actually related to trade.

WATERS: Chris Black on Capitol Hill.

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