ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:
With a healthy bipartisan vote this evening, the House easily passed the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, which aims to crack down on Chinese currency manipulation by targeting imports from China and other countries with currencies that are perceived to be undervalued. The vote was 348 to 79, with more than 100 Republicans voting in favor of the bill.
“For so many years, we have watched the China-U.S. trade deficit grow and grow and grow,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “Today, we are finally doing something about it by recognizing that China’s manipulation of the currency represents a subsidy for Chinese exports coming to the United States and elsewhere.”
Supporters of the bill say it will level the trade playing field by holding China accountable for what critics call an “unfair currency policy.”
“As part of this part of this bipartisan legislation, we make it clear that if China wants a strong trading relationship with the United States, it must play by the rules. We owe that to American workers,” Pelosi said. “It is our hope that by passing this legislation, the Obama Administration and future Administrations will have greater leverage in its bilateral and multilateral negotiations with the Chinese government.”
The measure is also part of the Democrats’ "Make It In America" initiative that aims at increasing domestic manufacturing and creating new American jobs.
"I believe in free markets and open competition. I believe that American companies and workers can win under those conditions. But the rules have to be fair—and for years now, it has been clear that China’s currency policy unfairly tilts the field in its direction,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in statement. “By deliberately keeping the value of its Yuan low, China is able to sell products here at an artificially low price. As a result, domestic manufacturers—whose prices would be much more competitive if China allowed the market to set the value of its currency—go out of business. And American workers lose their jobs.”
The bill now heads over to the Senate, where it may be considered during the lame duck session after Congress returns to Washington following the congressional midterm elections.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, has sponsored a similar but different measure which will likely be considered in the Senate once Congress returns for a lame duck session after the congressional midterm elections.
“The Chinese ought to be aware that Congress is serious about confronting their currency manipulation,” Schumer stated. “We plan to push our bill in the Senate when we return later this year.”
--John R. Parkinson