The House adjourned until mid-November last Thursday, wrapping up most of its legislative business for the 111th Congress. However, one issue we did not address was the extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts passed under President Bush, leaving much uncertainty about the future tax burden for most Americans.
I voted against adjournment because I believe it is essential that we address these looming tax increases before the end of the year. As I've said, I would like to see at least a two-year extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts as our economy continues to recover. I simply don't believe anyone can afford a tax increase right now and allowing the 2001 and 2003 tax rates to expire would raise taxes on nearly every American.
Also occurring last week, the House and Senate passed a continuing resolution, which provides appropriations for the federal government beginning on October 1 and lasting through early December. I voted against the resolution because it continued spending at current levels at a time when we should cut spending. It could have been a great opportunity to restore some sense of fiscal responsibility to Washington. Unfortunately, that chance was missed.
Cracking Down on Chinese Currency Manipulation
Last week, I voted for the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, legislation designed to give the Department of Commerce new tools to crack down on currency manipulation by foreign governments. H.R. 2378 will make it clear that tariffs can be imposed to offset the effects of undervalued currency. Under current law, the Commerce Department cannot count currency manipulation as a subsidy, which causes foreign exports- particularly from China- to be much cheaper than their actual value. The bipartisan legislation passed by a 348-79 margin.
It is estimated that China undervalues its currency by as much as 25 to 40%, which results in a significant subsidy for Chinese-made goods. If China fairly valued its currency, it could create up to one million U.S. manufacturing jobs and reduce our trade deficit with China by $100 billion a year.
For years, the United States government has tried to fight currency manipulation by foreign governments with little success. Fairly valuing currency will help lower our trade deficit and create manufacturing jobs in America. For trade to work, all parties involved must play by the same rules. The Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act will help level the playing field for American manufacturing and create jobs for our citizens and I was very pleased with its passage.
Job-Training Legislation Passes House
On Wednesday, the House passed the American Manufacturing Efficiency and Retraining Investment Collaboration Act (AMERICA Works). In November, I helped introduce AMERICA Works, which directs existing public job training funds to be used in developing nationally portable and industry-recognized credentials for workers in technical fields such as health care, energy, and construction. This is especially helpful for workers entering the job market for the first time, transitioning into a new job, currently unemployed but in the job market, and for military men and women entering the civilian workforce. This bill passed by a bipartisan 412-10 margin.
AMERICA Works will give preference to education programs that create nationally-portable credentials. Additionally, it brings local manufacturers in closer contact with training programs, building the credibility of publicly funded training programs with employers across the country.
AMERICA Works Act could not come at a better time. With nearly 10% of our country unemployed, we need effective programs to help put people back to work in the fields in which they are most qualified. H.R. 4072 is not only good for the American workforce, it's good for job creators because they have an assurance that the people they hire can perform their jobs. I am proud to help introduce this legislation and pleased to see it pass the House.
As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call our offices in Montgomery at (334) 277-9113, Dothan at (334) 794-9680, Opp at (334) 493-9253, or Ozark at (334) 445-4600. You can also visit the website at www.bright.house.gov to sign up for the e-newsletter. It is my great pleasure to serve you and the entire Second District of Alabama.