U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today joined Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and 19 senators on a letter calling for U.S. House Speaker John Boehner to bring to the floor for a vote the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, which passed the Senate in 2011 and represents the biggest bipartisan jobs bill passed that year. Brown is the author of that legislation, which passed the Senate last October by a bipartisan margin of 63 to 35, but has languished in the U.S. House since then. Nearly 260 current members of the U.S. House, including 80 Republicans, voted for similar legislation in 2010.
"This jobs bill is long overdue. It's time for the House to act on this bill so that we can level the playing field with a country that's cheating and manipulating Americans out of work," said Menendez.
Currency manipulation is an illegal trade practice in which the Chinese government intentionally devalues its own currency against the United States dollar. This results in artificially expensive American imports to China, and artificially devalued Chinese imports to the United States. This puts New Jersey and American manufacturers at a serious disadvantage, and makes it more difficult for American companies to compete against Chinese companies. Brown's bill would give the federal government stronger authority to address currency manipulation and misalignment.
According to a recent report released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the trade deficit with China cost New Jersey 76,000 jobs between 2001 and 2011. As a whole, the U.S. lost more than 2.7 million jobs as a result of the U.S.-China trade deficit, of which 2.1 million--more than 75 percent--were in manufacturing. These lost manufacturing jobs account for more than half of all U.S. manufacturing jobs lost or displaced between 2001 and 2011, according to the report. In June 2011, EPI released a report showing that addressing Chinese currency manipulation could support the creation of 2.25 million American jobs.
The text of the letter--which was also signed by Senators Chuck Schumer, Debbie Stabenow, Bob Casey, Jr., Dick Durbin, Jay Rockefeller, Joe Manchin, Tom Harkin, Jack Reed, Jeff Bingaman, Ben Cardin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Richard Blumenthal, Jeanne Shaheen, Kirstin Gillibrand, Chris Coons, Al Franken, and Amy Klobuchar--is below:
Dear Speaker Boehner:
Almost one year ago, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. We urge you to allow a vote on currency legislation before you adjourn the House.
The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, which was passed by the Senate 63-35 on October 11, 2011, would repeal the currency oversight provisions in current law and replace them with a new framework, based on objective criteria. These criteria will require Treasury to identify misaligned currencies and require action by the Administration if countries fail to correct the misalignment. In addition, the legislation passed by the Senate uses trade laws to effectively counter and deter the harm done to manufacturers, farmers, and producers from currency manipulation.
Legislation is necessary to actually give American businesses and workers tools to fight back. The House agreed in September 2010 when it voted 348-79 to allow treatment of currency manipulation as a prohibited export subsidy in trade investigations. There are 256 sitting House members, more than a majority, who supported this legislation, including 80 Republicans.
The Senate bill is a bipartisan, job-creating measure that is supported by groups in every state. We respectfully urge you to pass this bill and send it to the President.