Rep. Grimm: TRIA Is ‘Fiscal Responsibility’

Kelsey Snell
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Kelsey Snell
Nov. 19, 2013, 9:51 a.m.

The House over­whelm­ingly passed le­gis­la­tion Wed­nes­day de­signed to im­prove the U.S. trade im­bal­ance with China by al­low­ing tar­iffs on im­ports that are bolstered by cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tion. The vote was 348 -79.

The bill would al­low the Com­merce De­part­ment to im­pose coun­ter­vail­ing du­ties on Chinese goods on a case-by-case basis when it de­term­ines that the un­der­val­ued yuan serves as an ex­port sub­sidy.

Beijing an­nounced in June that it would al­low the yuan to ap­pre­ci­ate, but since then its value has grown just 2.2 per­cent. At that time, the Peterson In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tion­al Eco­nom­ics es­tim­ated the cur­rency was un­der­val­ued by about 24 per­cent.

“There has to be a strategy,” said House Ways and Means Chair­man Sander Lev­in. “China has a strategy and it’s im­port­ant that the U.S. has a strategy too. This is just one of the im­port­ant pieces.”

The bill passed with 99 of the 178 Re­pub­lic­ans vot­ing for it after an amend­ment en­sured that it met World Trade Or­gan­iz­a­tion re­quire­ments.

Still, some Re­pub­lic­ans ar­gued that the le­gis­la­tion could en­cour­age Chinese re­tali­ation and would cause the cost of pop­u­lar Chinese goods to rise.

“They are sub­sid­iz­ing goods to the Amer­ic­an people at a time when many fam­ily budgets are be­ing strained,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. He said the bill would cause the U.S. gov­ern­ment to choose between con­sumers and man­u­fac­tur­ers — and would ul­ti­mately pun­ish con­sumers.

Con­cerns about the ef­fect­ive­ness of the le­gis­la­tion were also re­flec­ted in a let­ter sent to Con­gress Tues­day by a co­ali­tion of busi­ness or­gan­iz­a­tions, in­clud­ing the U.S.-China Busi­ness Coun­cil and the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce. The groups called the bill coun­ter­pro­duct­ive to over­all trade goals with China.

However, bill sup­port­ers de­pic­ted the move as an ef­fort to bring man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs back to the United States. Many also said the bill was ne­ces­sary to counter in­ac­tion by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has been si­lent on the le­gis­la­tion.

“I hope they are grate­ful to us,” said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., one of the bill’s spon­sors, call­ing the meas­ure a tool for ne­go­ti­ation.

“It will give the pres­id­ent lever­age in his con­ver­sa­tions with the Chinese people about how ser­i­ously the Amer­ic­an people are watch­ing this le­gis­la­tion,” said House Speak­er Pelosi. “We make it clear that if China wants a strong trad­ing re­la­tion­ship with the United States, they must play by the rules.”

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