Mr. DONNELLY of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to applaud the bipartisan majority in the Senate for passing legislation to take on currency manipulators, and to urge our House of Representatives and our House Republican leadership to do the same--to allow a stand-alone, up-or-down vote on currency manipulation legislation--here in the House of Representatives. In a period of congressional gridlock, we must seize every bipartisan opportunity available to us not only to create jobs, but also to protect the good-paying jobs we already have.
As the Senate demonstrated this week by passing the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, the time is now to take advantage of bipartisan cooperation. Sixteen Republican Senators joined 47 Democratic Senators in voting for this legislation to counter an unfair trade practice that is hampering our economic recovery.
In February, Congressman Sander Levin, Tim Ryan, and Tim Murphy introduced the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act. H.R. 639 has garnered 225 bipartisan cosponsors, more than enough secure House passage. This would allow the Department of Commerce to counter imports made cheaper by currency manipulation with a corresponding tariff. A nearly identical bill passed the House of Representatives last year by a strong, overwhelming bipartisan vote of 348-79, both Republicans and Democrats.
When countries are allowed to keep the value of their currencies artificially low and, in turn, the prices of their exports into the United States, American companies and American workers face an unfair disadvantage. Forced to compete on an unlevel playing field where competitors are able to maintain a permanent 30 to 40 percent-off sale on their products, American jobs are lost and our trade deficit grows with countries like China.
The Economic Policy Institute recently released the study, and it showed that in the last 10 years the U.S. lost 2.8 million jobs, including nearly 62,000 jobs in my home State of Indiana as a result directly of the expanding trade deficit with China. Many experts agree: Countries like China that manipulate their currencies are damaging the U.S. economy.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke recently expressed concern ``that the Chinese currency policy is blocking what might be a more normal recovery process in the global economy,'' and he stated that ``it is to some extent hurting the recovery.''
Chairman Bernanke is tasked directly with the responsibilities of serving and protecting America's economic interests. He recognizes the impact that Chinese currency manipulation is having on our economy. It is long past time for this House of Representatives to do the same.
After the Senate expressed interest in considering S. 1619, China immediately went on the offensive, issuing threats and saying such legislation could spark a trade war. Though China's comments are disappointing, they are not unexpected, and Congress should not shy away from doing what is in America's best interests. That is our job. China's unfair currency policies have cost millions of Americans their jobs, and I believe inaction on this issue is dangerous to our economic recovery and continues to put at risk hundreds of thousands of additional American jobs.
When I travel around my district, I hear from small businesses and manufacturers on this issue. And they never ask for Congress to guarantee their success. All they want is a fair fight, for the rules to be the same. And I believe given a level playing field, American businesses will win every single time.
Once again, to our House leadership, please allow bipartisan legislation addressing currency manipulation to come before the full House of Representatives for a standalone, up-or-down vote. Who are you going to stand with, the Chinese government or American businesses and American workers? The American people want a vote now and deserve a vote now