By a vote of 390 to 25, the House overrode President Bush's veto of legislation (HR 2712) to prevent the deportation of up to 40,000 Chinese students when their visas expire. But the veto held when the Senate failed to muster the two-thirds majority it needed to join the House in defeating it.
Congress passed the bill last year after the Tian An Men Square massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators. The President countered with an executive order to achieve the same goals. Congressional critics said a law, not an order that can be instantly lifted, is needed to protect the students against being returned home to face possible persecution.
James A. Traficant Jr. (D-Ohio) said: "Maybe our President is going to kowtow to a repressive Chinese government, but this Congress should not. It's time to put your vote where your rhetoric is."
Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) said: "President Bush knows China as well if not better than any member of this House" and that he "must be given the room to make the foreign-policy moves he feels are in the long-range best interests of our country."