The House and Senate have finally agreed to add a controversial but eagerly awaited dyeing and finishing clause into a $28.9 billion emergency spending bill due for approval by Congress and Bush within the next few weeks.

Demands for the dyeing and finishing provision followed a campaign last year by US Rep. Jim DeMint, R-SC. He agreed to vote for a "fast-track" bill to give President Bush more authority to negotiate trade agreements in exchange for a promise that Republican leaders in Congress would help the textile industry.

The agreement rules that fabric made in the United States, shipped to Caribbean countries to be cut and sewn into clothing, then shipped back for sale must be woven and dyed, printed and finished in the United States. Only then could it be exported for cutting and sewing and shipped back under preferential trade rules.

"We are extremely pleased that the final supplemental appropriations bill passed by the House contains the language we have been seeking to require US fabrics used in the Caribbean and Andean trade programs to be dyed, finished and printed in the United States," ATMI chairman Van May said in a statement. 

"We applaud Congressmen Jim DeMint for the strong leadership and persistence he showed in making sure that this language was maintained in the final bill."

However, some officials within the industry say the celebration is premature and DeMint is taking too much credit. They also say the trade treaties created under Bush's fast-track plan - for which DeMint voted - will lower tariffs on foreign textiles and render US companies here unable to compete.