WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today led 21 senators on a letter calling for U.S. House Speaker John Boehner to bring to the floor for a vote the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, which passed the Senate in 2011 and represents the biggest bipartisan jobs bill passed that year. Brown is the author of that legislation, which passed the Senate last October by a bipartisan margin of 63 to 35, but has languished in the U.S. House since then. Nearly 260 current members of the U.S. House, including 80 Republicans, voted for similar legislation in 2010.
“As an Ohioan, Speaker Boehner has no doubt heard from businesses in and around West Chester that have faced unfair competition from China—a country that manipulates its currency to give its businesses an unfair advantage over ours,” Brown said. “This is long overdue, especially when a majority of House members supported similar legislation two years ago. Our workers can compete with anyone in the world, as long as there is a level playing field. Legislation is necessary to fight back against China’s unfair currency manipulation, and it has enjoyed broad bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate—but the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act has languished in the U.S. House for months. Our workers and businesses can’t wait any longer for action.”
Currency manipulation is an illegal trade practice in which the Chinese government intentionally devalues its own currency against the United States dollar. This results in artificially expensive American imports to China, and artificially devalued Chinese imports to the United States. This puts Ohio and American manufacturers at a serious disadvantage, and makes it more difficult for American companies to compete against Chinese companies. Brown’s bill would give the federal government stronger authority to address currency manipulation and misalignment.
Pressure is building in Ohio for action, with Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish and Assistant Minority Leader Matt Szollosi this week sending a letter—signed by members of the Ohio House of Representatives—to Speaker Boehner urging congressional action on the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act. The letter follows a bipartisan, unanimously-passed Ohio House resolution urging President Obama and Congress to cite China as a currency manipulator. New figures were released last week showing the U.S. trade deficit growing to $42 billion in July, up 0.2 percent from June. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, the trade deficit with China grew to $29.4 billion, an increase of 7.2 percent; imports from China rose 5.6 percent.
According to a recent report released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the trade deficit with China cost Ohio 95,500 jobs between 2001 and 2011. As a whole, the U.S. lost more than 2.7 million jobs as a result of the U.S.-China trade deficit, of which 2.1 million—more than 75 percent—were in manufacturing. These lost manufacturing jobs account for more than half of all U.S. manufacturing jobs lost or displaced between 2001 and 2011, according to the report. In June 2011, EPI released a report showing that addressing Chinese currency manipulation could support the creation of 2.25 million American jobs.
The text of the letter—which was also signed by Senators Chuck Schumer, Debbie Stabenow, Bob Casey, Jr., Dick Durbin, Jay Rockefeller, Joe Manchin, Tom Harkin, Jack Reed, Jeff Bingaman, Ben Cardin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Richard Blumenthal, Jeanne Shaheen, Kirstin Gillibrand, Chris Coons, Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, and Bob Menendez—is below.
The Honorable John Boehner
U.S. House of Representatives
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Dear Speaker Boehner:
Almost one year ago, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. We urge you to allow a vote on currency legislation before you adjourn the House.
The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, which was passed by the Senate 63-35 on October 11, 2011, would repeal the currency oversight provisions in current law and replace them with a new framework, based on objective criteria. These criteria will require Treasury to identify misaligned currencies and require action by the Administration if countries fail to correct the misalignment. In addition, the legislation passed by the Senate uses trade laws to effectively counter and deter the harm done to manufacturers, farmers, and producers from currency manipulation.
Legislation is necessary to actually give American businesses and workers tools to fight back. The House agreed in September 2010 when it voted 348-79 to allow treatment of currency manipulation as a prohibited export subsidy in trade investigations. There are 256 sitting House members, more than a majority, who supported this legislation, including 80 Republicans.
The Senate bill is a bipartisan, job-creating measure that is supported by groups in every state. We respectfully urge you to pass this bill and send it to the President.