Normally a partisan maelstrom even on the best of days, House Democrats and Republicans joined together to approve legislation designed to curb China’s manipulation of its currency. Such manipulation puts American-made products at a unfair disadvantage, and costs U.S. jobs, supporters of the bill say.
Even as they fiercely jockey for position in the coming midterm elections, lawmakers came together Wednesday evening to approve the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (H.R. 2378) on a bipartisan 348-79 vote.
“We understand the U.S.-China relationship is an important one in every way—culturally, politically, diplomatically, economically—but we both need to play by the rules. When China came into the WTO, it was projected that they would play by the rules,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says in a floor statement just prior to the vote.
“But here we are today, and remember I said the trade deficit was $5 billion a year 20 years ago when we were having this debate then. It is now $5 billion a week. A week! One way that we can address that is to address the issue of China’s manipulation of their currency, which, as I mentioned, is a subsidy for their exports,” Pelosi adds. “We believe that passing this legislation here today will give the President leverage in his conversations with the Chinese about how seriously and closely the American people are watching this situation.”
As many as 1 million American jobs would be created if China ended its currency manipulation, the speaker adds.
Pelosi touted the currency bill as part of the House Democrats manufacturing agenda, called “Making in America,” which is a portfolio of legislation designed to encourage companies to produce goods in the United States.
“So this is about America’s workers. It’s about ‘Making It in America’ so that our people can make it in America—for the families, for their communities, for our country, for our economy,” she says. “Especially now when we are talking about all the new green technologies and the rest, which are part of the green, clean energy jobs for the future, and we see what is happening in the trade relationship with China on that score. It is absolutely essential as we prepare for, well we are into that future, as we go farther into that future that we do not have unfair subsidies of Chinese exports into the United States in the important competitive arena of innovation and new green technology.”
The head of the United Steelworkers (USW) labor union gave an enthusiastic endorsement to the legislation, which now heads to the Senate for consideration.
“Our USW members and working families across America will be gratified with news of today’s strong vote by the U.S. House that approved the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act as the way forward to stop the egregious behavior of China and other nations that put our manufactured goods at an unfair disadvantage with deliberate currency undervaluation,” says Leo Gerard, international president of the USW. Gerard testified before Congress earlier this month on the need to approve the bill
“This bill will give us the tools we need to address the shuttered factories and shattered dreams that currency manipulation has caused,” Gerard adds. “House Congressional members stood up for American workers and demonstrated a commitment to reverse years of damage to our economy by passing this important trade bill. Now it’s up to the Senate to do the same.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.