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Is China’s currency manipulation now OK?!

China’s undervaluation of its currency artificially raises the price of U.S. exports to China and suppresses the price of Chinese imports into the United States.  This manipulation closes opportunities for American business to sell their goods in China while flooding the U.S. market with cheap goods. Last fall, with overwhelming bipartisan support, the House passed legislation to crack down on China’s manipulation by a 348-79 margin.

But this year, House Republican leadership is sitting on the legislation, potentially costing hundreds of thousands of desperately needed American jobs. What’s changed?! It’s almost like Republican leaders don’t want to restore American jobs.

Earlier this year, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) introduced H.R. 639, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act to curtail continued Chinese currency manipulation. Despite last fall’s bipartisan support for cracking down and the 189 bipartisan co-sponsors who support current legislation, the Republican leadership has refused to move forward on the measure this year. (Reps. Jay Inslee (D-1st) and Jim McDermott (D-7th) of Washington are both co-sponsors.)


500,000 to 1.5 million — Estimated job growth by reining in China’s currency manipulation.
28.5% — Estimate of undervaluation today.
348 — Number of members who supported the bill in September.
6 — Months since the reintroduction of the bill without any action by Republican leadership.
54 — Number of Republican co-sponsors of the bill this year.
189 — Number of co-sponsors to H.R. 639.

In February, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called on Congress to level the playing field by enforcing our trade laws against currency manipulation. He urged lawmakers  to pass the bipartisan Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act of 2011. It is same legislation passed by the U.S. House last September by a 348-79 margin.

The bill gives the U.S. Treasury Department more tools to enforce rules against currency manipulation by our trading partners. The Chinese government keeps its currency low, which artificially reduces the prices of its exports, creates a huge trade deficit for the United States and costs millions of American jobs.  Trumka said China’s actions create a worldwide domino effect, encouraging other governments to engage in the same behavior.

“China’s continued manipulation of its currency costs us hundreds of thousands of American jobs,” said Rep. Levin. “This bill was approved last year with sweeping bipartisan support and I urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill up for a vote in the 112th Congress so American businesses and workers can compete and win in a fair international marketplace.”

Said Rep. Ryan: “American workers are being cheated by the dishonest tactics China uses to undermine the U.S. manufacturing sector.  Last year, when Democrats controlled Congress, we passed — with overwhelming support — a bill that would help bolster American manufacturers by cracking down on China’s currency manipulation. Unfortunately, since Republicans have taken control of the House, they have refused to bring the bill back for a vote. Why are they covering for China instead of standing up for American workers?”

This story was compiled from reports by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Democrats and AFL-CIO Now.

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