Last week, Congress adjourned for our fall district work period. I voted against adjourning because I believe we have far too much unfinished work, most notably enacting needed tax cuts for the middle class. In this brutal economy, it is crucial to ensure that hard-working families have a little extra money in their pockets at the end of the day. Enacting these middle class tax cuts would also help generate the demand that small businesses tell me they so badly need.
Before adjournment, however, we passed an important bill that will protect American manufacturing jobs and help make American-made products more competitive. I co-sponsored the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, which passed with bi-partisan support, to crack down on foreign countries like China that manipulate their currency.
By keeping their currency artificially undervalued, China is able to sell their products so cheaply that American-made products cannot compete. Under this bill, the Department of Commerce will be empowered to apply a duty fee to imported products that are manufactured by nations engaging in illegal currency manipulation. This duty will bring the products closer to their true price and will help level the playing field so that American-made products can compete.
Finally passing this bill was a big victory for American jobs and American manufacturing, including steel jobs in Southern Virginia. China's currency manipulation is illegal, and it is past time to fight back and put America's competitiveness ahead of foreign corporations. The American Manufacturing Alliance estimates that our area lost 6,000 jobs to China between 2001 and 2008, and I will not sit on the sidelines while the next generation of advanced manufacturing and clean energy jobs follows them overseas. I am committed to leveraging our manufacturing heritage to start rebuilding our economy around the men and women who make, build, and grow things here in America.
This issue may seem far away, but it has real implications for jobs here in our community. In late 2009, Scottsville, Virginia was dealt a serious blow when the tire factory in their town was forced to close down, leaving more than 100 people unemployed. The company made it clear that global competition was a major reason for their closure, as they were forced to compete against manufacturers who were not playing by the same rules.
A few weeks ago, I met with employees and managers at the American Buildings Company in La Crosse, Virginia, who told me that Chinese steel products were so cheap that their American-made steel had trouble competing. After many months of fighting, I'm glad to see that we're starting to level the playing field because I know that, when given a chance, American workers can outcompete and outperform the world.
Conversations like the ones I had in La Crosse are how I get many of the ideas and priorities I fight for in Congress. There is no better source of solutions than the men and women who are on the streets fighting every day to create jobs and grow successful businesses. Conversations like these led me to co-sponsor a bill to eliminate capital gains taxes on small business investment, something that was signed into law as part of the recent Small Business Jobs Act. That act also included a small business lending fund, which will help meet the capital needs that I hear about from many small businesses.
While we still have a long way to go to, I am proud to say that after many months of fighting, we are finally getting Washington to turn its attention back to Main Street and a Make it in America agenda.