U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, a Greensboro Republican, announced his support Thursday for new legislation that would revoke permanent normalized trade relations with China.
While the chance of passage seems slim, Coble's move nevertheless underscored continuing frustration in the North Carolina delegation with U.S. trade policies.
The China trade bill, which Coble opposed at the time, was signed into law in October 2000. The bill ended an annual ritual of deciding whether to grant China special trade preferences and made the relationship permanent.
Since then, Coble said, the U.S. trade deficit with China has grown by $120 million and hit several North Carolina manufacturing sectors particularly hard.
"Every day, textile and furniture factories across North Carolina are closing due to low-cost imports from China," Coble said. "We can no longer stand by and ignore the impact this is having on families and the quality of life of North Carolina's citizens."
The bill Coble is backing was introduced Thursday by Rep. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont. No word yet on whether other Tar Heel members will back it.
In a pair of speeches this week and last, U.S. Rep. David Price tried to add some perspective to the Bush administration's $87 billion supplemental spending request, most of which is dedicated to stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq.
"How much money is $87 billion?" the Chapel Hill Democrat asked. "It is three times what we spend each year on major disease research at the National Institutes of Health. It is more than double our entire post-9/11 homeland security budget. "
"I will leave it to my colleagues," Price continued, "to calculate what this could mean in terms of covering the uninsured, upgrading our schools or improving roads and mass transit."
Price also suggested the administration must do a better job of explaining how it will pay for spending in Iraq. He delivered his speech last week on the House floor and again this week during an appearance in the Triangle.
Madison heading North
U.S. Rep. Brad Miller's office is bracing for a visit early next month from residents of Madison.
The Raleigh Democrat is expecting 320 schoolchildren, teachers and parents in Washington who, among other things, plan to tour the Capitol. If the group turns out to be as large as advertised, it will amount to roughly one of every eight residents of the small Rockingham County community.
Because the Capitol Guide Service cannot handle such large groups, Miller's staff is being trained to help give tours.
Etheridge visits soldier
U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge last week went to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit a Fort Bragg soldier wounded in Iraq.
Aides said the Lillington Democrat plans to make such visits a regular practice.
Brian Nick has been promoted to communications director in the office of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a North Carolina Republican.
Nick, who had been Dole's press secretary, succeeds Mary Brown Brewer, who has moved over to the U.S. Commerce Department. Brewer, who is now serving as a spokeswoman for the International Trade Administration, had been with Dole since her campaign last year.
By Washington correspondent John Wagner, who can be reached at (202) 662-4380 or email@example.com.