U.S. House to attempt quick passage of Hong Kong human rights bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday will attempt to quickly pass legislation unanimously approved by the Senate that aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong amid a pro-democracy movement there, a senior House aide said.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, told Reuters the bill passed on Tuesday by the Senate would be brought to the House floor for passage. Republican Senator Marco Rubio was a main sponsor of the Senate-passed bill.

If the measure passes the House and is signed into law by President Donald Trump, it would request Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to certify at least once a year that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to qualify for special U.S. trading consideration that bolsters its status as a world financial center.

It also would provide for sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations in Hong Kong.

The White House did not provide an immediate response on whether the president intended to sign or veto the legislation.

A U.S. official said recently that no decision had been made, but the unanimous vote in the Senate, where Trump’s fellow Republicans hold a majority of seats, could make a veto more difficult for the president.

In Beijing on Wednesday, China condemned the bill’s passage, and vowed strong counter-measures to safeguard its sovereignty and security.