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.”
What We're Following See More »
Natasha De Alencar, widow of Army Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, shared a video her daughter took of a phone call she received from President Trump following the death of her husband. "Trump opened by saying how sorry he is about the 'whole situation,' before adding that De Alencar’s husband was 'an unbelievable hero.' ... Later in the call, Trump invited De Alencar to the White House, telling her, 'If you’re around Washington, you come over and see me in the Oval Office.'"
"The new head of the World Health Organization has named Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a goodwill ambassador for the agency, a move that has startled public health experts...A number of organizations that attended the" Montevideo conference where the appointment was announced "said in a statement after the announcement that they could not recognize Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador."
"The Senate approved the Republican-proposed budget Thursday night, a major step forward for the GOP effort to enact tax cuts. The budget, which now moves to the House, is projected to expand the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Its passage will allow the GOP to use a procedural maneuver to pass tax legislation through the Senate with 50 or more votes, removing the need for support from Democratic senators."