The Washington Times - December 6, 2012, 03:38PM

In a brief moment of bipartisanship in an otherwise divisive atmosphere in Washington, President Obama thanked the House and Senate Thursday for passing a bill that jettisoned an obsolete law and opens up new export opportunities for U.S. business in Russia.

Earlier in the day, the Senate voted 92-4 to establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia, a vote that followed an equally lopsided House vote in favor of the bill last month. The measure also eliminates an outdated provision from 1974, known as the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, that tied trade relations with the former Soviet Union to the emigration of Jews and other Soviet minorities.

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Mr. Obama strongly favors the legislation, which also extends permanent normal trade relations to the former Soviet state of Moldova, and said he would sign it as soon as it gets to his desk. He said the legislation would ensure that American businesses and workers can take full advantage of World Trade Commission rules and market-access commitments the United States worked hard to negotiate with Russia.

“We are one step closer to realizing job-creating opportunities and leveling the playing field for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and service providers,” he said. “My administration will continue to work with Congress and our partners to support those seeking a free and democratic future for Russia and promote the rule of law and respect for human rights around the world.”