The House has backed President Clinton's decision to promote trade with Vietnam.

By a 260-163 vote Thursday, the House rejected a motion to overturn a presidential waiver issued last March opening the way for Vietnam to get U.S. government credits and investment guarantees.Supporters of the administration policy argued that Vietnam's human rights record is improving, and that increased U.S. trade can only foster that trend.

Opponents questioned Vietnam's commitment to reform and the wisdom of extending U.S. credit to a communist government.

The waiver is necessary to grant Vietnam exemption from the 1974 law that imposed trade restrictions on communist governments as a penalty for limiting emigration.

Because both chambers must disapprove a presidential waiver to block it, the House action cancels the need for a Senate vote.