Construction-equipment manufacturers and other business groups are gearing up to push for House approval in September of a trade bill that observers say would expand U.S. exports to Russia.

The legislation would grant Russia permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with the U.S. That PNTR status would mean U.S. construction-equipment manufacturers would be eligible for tariff cuts and mechanisms for resolving trade disputes that Russia is putting in place as a new member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Supporters of the pending congressional legislation were disappointed that Congress didn’t pass the trade bill by Aug. 22, the date Russia joined the WTO. They say the U.S. is losing out in trade with Russia to other WTO member countries that have granted PNTR status to Russia and thus can take advantage of the lower tariffs and other benefits.

Nick Yaksich, Association of Equipment Manufacturers vice president for global public policy, says, “Every day that we wait after August 22, [U.S.] business is losing opportunities.”

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk noted that President Obama has said “he is committed to working with Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible so American businesses will not be at a competitive disadvantage in Russian markets.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also wants to see Congress pass a Russia trade bill. U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said, “Because of our inaction on PNTR, European and Asian companies have won a head start in the Russian market.”

Different versions of the PNTR legislation cleared Senate and House committees before the August recess. However, there were no floor votes before the break.

The next key date is Sept. 12, when industry officials say the House plans a floor vote on the Russia trade measure. It would have PNTR provisions based on a bill that the Ways and Means Committee approved on July 26.

The package also is expected to include other trade-related provisions and language to impose sanctions against human-rights violators in Russia.