U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited a Columbus steel foundry today to call on U.S. House Speaker John Boehner to schedule a vote on his legislation that punishes China for cheating trade laws. Brown met with workers and toured Columbus Castings. He was joined by CEO Rick Ruebusch, who discussed how his company--a manufacturer of undercarriage components for rail cars and a variety of heavy-duty industrial components--is facing the prospect of Chinese companies selling unfairly underpriced, low-grade products in the United States. Columbus Castings is the largest single-site steel foundry in North America, and has been a fixture on the Ohio manufacturing landscape for 110 years.
"The manufacturing industry in central Ohio and across our state is bouncing back, but challenges remain--and that's why we can't turn a blind eye when countries like China cheat trade laws. Our workers and business can compete with anyone when we ensure a level playing field -- and that includes addressing China's currency manipulation," Brown said. "My bill that punishes China when it cheats has broad bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, but it has languished in the U.S. House for almost a year. Our workers and businesses can't wait any longer for action."
Last month, Brown led 21 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. Despite clearing the Senate by a margin of 63 to 35, the legislation has languished in the U.S. House for almost a year. Nearly 260 current members of the U.S. House, including 80 Republicans, voted for similar legislation in 2010.
Pressure is also building in Ohio for action on China's currency manipulation, with Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish and Assistant Minority Leader Matt Szollosi recently sending a letter--signed by members of the Ohio House of Representatives--to Speaker Boehner urging congressional action on the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act. The letter follows a bipartisan, unanimously-passed Ohio House resolution urging President Obama and Congress to cite China as a currency manipulator.
New figures were released last month showing the U.S. trade deficit growing to $42 billion in July, up 0.2 percent from June. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, the trade deficit with China grew to $29.4 billion, an increase of 7.2 percent; imports from China rose 5.6 percent.
According to a recent report released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the trade deficit with China cost Ohio 95,500 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.