The House voted Thursday to punish China for crushing its pro-democracy movement last year by raising tariffs on Chinese clothing, toys and shoes by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Then, anticipating a certain veto from President Bush, it also prepared to approve a backup contradictory measure that would condition continued open trade with China upon its improvement in human rights.However, Bush, a former envoy to China, has indicated he is prepared to veto both, particularly if the milder version is amended later today to require the release of all protesters arrested after the military suppressed the student-led Tiananmen Square democracy movement in June 1989.
The United States imposed several sanctions against China for what the State Department estimates as "several hundred and possibly thousands" of deaths of students and others in the military crackdown.
But Bush decided in May to continue for another year the lower, "most favored nation" tariffs that China has enjoyed since 1980. Raising them, he said, "would only hurt the Chinese people themselves."
The resolution disapproving Bush's continuation of the lower tariffs was approved on a 247-174 vote. It now goes to the Senate, where Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, has introduced a similar measure.
In other congressional action:
INDUSTRIES THAT NOW release more than 2.4 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere each year would have to cut those emissions by 90 percent under provisions tentatively added to a compromise clean-air bill.
House-Senate talks produced an agreement Wednesday that would require factories and many businesses to install new technology over the next 10 years to contain 189 hazardous chemicals, including many that cause cancer.
DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS are moving to force House members to reveal how much taxpayer money they spend on mailings to their home districts.
Also, for the first time, the plan would cap each member's mail allowance, although at a level high enough that most lawmakers would be unaffected.
The proposal was expected to be added Thursday to the $2.2 billion spending bill covering Congress, including $59 million for House postage next year.
The free mail privilege has been criticized as one of the tools incumbents use to win re-election at public expense.