A one-vote majority yesterday pushed through a measure allowing Republicans in the US House of Representatives to begin trade talks with the Senate - but without the support of textile state lawmakers.

Rep Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, and Rep Robin Hayes, a North Carolina Republican both withheld their backing after complaining that new wording in the bill offered a loophole that would violate a commitment to keep certain textile dyeing and finishing jobs in the United States.

The issue involves trade rules for fabric made in the United States, shipped to Caribbean countries to be cut and sewn into clothing, then shipped back for sale. Textile state lawmakers have been seeking an assurance that this "wholly formed" fabric would 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.

The new trade promotion authority bill will boost President George W Bush's ability to negotiate trade pacts without the possibility of any amendments by Congress. The legislation also includes other previously passed bills providing trade benefits for Andean nations and federal aid for workers who have lost their jobs because of increased imports or because factories moved overseas.

House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, a California Republican, told reporters he hoped to reach agreement with Senate negotiators on a final trade package before August.

But it remains possible the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate will be unable to agree on a final trade package.