Schumer to push for China currency vote in lame-duck

Schumer (D-N.Y.), a high-profile voice on the issue, promised to pressure other Democratic leaders to schedule a vote. 

"We must take decisive action against China’s currency manipulation and other economically injurious behavior," Schumer said in a floor speech. He said the "issue here is not U.S. protectionism, but China’s flouting of the rules of free trade."

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"This is one reason why, when the Senate reconvenes later this year, my colleagues and I intend to move forward with legislation to provide specific consequences for countries that fail to adopt appropriate policies to eliminate currency misalignment and to give the administration additional tools to address the impact of currency misalignment on U.S. industries," he continued. "This issue cannot wait for another year or for a new Congress. I am confident that this bill will pass the Senate with overwhelming support."

The House is scheduled to vote on China currency legislation on Wednesday. The House bill would allow the Commerce Department to consider currency values when calculating anti-subsidy duties on imports. 

Those arguing for this action say China keeps the value of its currency artificially low by pegging it to the value of the U.S. dollar. This keeps the price of its exports low, hurting U.S. workers and manufacturers. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has not yet decided whether or not to take up the Chinese currency bill after the elections. 

The Obama administration has so far been cool to the legislation, as have previous White Houses, fearing it could damage the U.S.-China trade relationship. But Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testified before Congress this month, admitting that the undervalued yuan makes it difficult for U.S. goods to compete in the international marketplace.

Small manufacturers and labor unions have long pushed for the legislation, saying that their workers and bottom lines are hurt by cheap Chinese exports.

Schumer said the legislation would not do damage to trade relations with China and argued that it could provide the Obama administration with a key bargaining chip. 

"Each time I’ve pushed the administration to take a tougher stance against China’s currency manipulation, they have vowed to do so," he said. "Well, it’s not working. China is merely pretending to take significant steps on its currency.  This suckers’ game is never going to stop unless we call their bluff."