Senator Charles Schumer said overwhelming support has emerged in the Senate for legislation letting U.S. companies seek duties on imports from China to compensate for the effects of a weak yuan.
“This bill is on a fast track for passage in the Senate,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said today on a conference call with other lawmakers. “Once it passes the Senate, it’s going to be hard for the House to block it. I’m optimistic this bill can get to the president’s desk.”
The Senate is scheduled to debate the legislation next week. Besides Schumer, senators backing the bill include Democrats Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Lawmakers have said a weak currency gives Chinese companies an unfair advantage against U.S. manufacturers and cost more than 2.8 million jobs since 2001.
Schumer proposed similar measures penalizing the world’s second-largest economy in each of the past six years. None received a Senate vote.
While the yuan has appreciated 4.9 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past year and 24 percent in the past five years, the steepest advance after Colombia’s peso among 25 emerging- market currencies tracked by Bloomberg, the lawmakers said that isn’t fast enough. The nation limits currency conversions for investment purposes and buys dollars to slow the yuan’s advance and preserve the competitiveness of China’s exports.
Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, on Sept. 28 asked Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to clarify their views on the legality of the bill before the Senate debates. The Obama administration considers China’s currency as “substantially undervalued” and is reviewing the legislation, White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Sept. 28.
In crafting the bill, the senators were careful to use language that makes it compliant with World Trade Organization rules, Stabenow said.
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