"Congress is steaming mad about China"
Posted by admin on 06/17/2010
The heat is rising in Washington, DC, and we’re not just talking about the weather. Congress is steaming mad about China’s trade, economic and industrial policies, and is becoming increasingly frustrated with the perceived unwillingness of the Obama Administration to stand up for American interests. Leaders in both the House and Senate have warned that action on currency manipulation is coming very soon. World leaders will convene next week in Toronto for the G-20. • The NY Times reports that trade tensions with China are mounting in Congress and President Obama is facing increasing pressure to take a tougher stance. • To no one's surprise, China doesn’t want to talk about its currency at the G-20. Read more here. AAM and its supporters have now organized over 17,000 letters to elected officials urging prompt action on China’s currency manipulation. The results are evident. Here’s a recap of recent Congressional action on U.S.-China relations: Hearing – House Ways & Means Committee: Yesterday a House committee heard from various voices, including USW President Leo Gerard, about China’s trade and industrial policies. • Chairman Sandy Levin (D-MI) said that time was running out for the Administration to convince China to act on its currency: “Seven years of patience from the United States and the international community have run out.” After the Group of 20 world leaders meets this month, “if China does not act and the administration does not respond promptly thereafter, the Congress will act.” • Read USW President Leo Gerard’s testimony here. Hearing – U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission: Last Wednesday several key Senators testified before the USCC at a hearing to examine China’s past and future role in the World Trade Organization (WTO). • Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) noted that 68,000 jobs have been lost in Michigan since China joined the WTO (2.4 million nationwide). She examined China’s broken promise to open its government procurement market to American goods by signing onto the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) and said that she would be introducing legislation to bar Chinese goods from our own procurement market until they live up to their word. Senator Stabenow – joined by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and others – plans to introduce the China Fair Trade Act today. • Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) – a leader on efforts to confront China’s currency manipulation – told the USCC that he and other colleagues would push for a vote “in the next two weeks” on his legislation (S. 3134). That vote would occur as an amendment to legislation moving through the Senate, perhaps a package to boost SBA lending and other assistance to small businesses. Hearing – Senate Finance Committee: Last Thursday Treasury Secretary Geithner faced a chorus of frustration with the results of the Administration’s quiet diplomacy on China’s currency manipulation. Much to the chagrin of Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY), the Administration delayed an April 15 report in which it was mandated by Congress to name countries with misaligned currencies. Instead, it has opted to proceed with additional discussions at the S&ED and G-20 forums. • Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) challenged the Secretary on his understanding of the law. "I think you're smart enough to know what 'shall' means. ... What made you think that the deadline in this statute is optional? And do you understand that you are violating the law by not issuing this report?" Bunning asked. "It doesn't say in the statute that you may delay. It's not optional." • Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) directed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to “stop slow dancing with China, before we're slow danced off the dance floor.” • Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told the Secretary to “be prepared” for Congressional action in light of the Administration’s failure to achieve results. • For his part, Geithner acknowledged that China’s exchange rate policies have had a harmful impact on worldwide economic growth. However, he could not shed light on when or how China would allow the yuan to rise again. • A number of Senators – including Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Jim Bunning (R-KY) – quoted the recent EPI report citing 2.4 million American jobs lost due to the China trade imbalance since 2001. Brown/Schumer Currency Letter: On June 8, 2010, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke calling for the Department to make a final ruling on whether or not it would investigate whether China’s currency policy provides an unfair subsidy for Chinese paper products that should be remedied through trade measures.
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