Reid selling currency bill as jobs legislation

Reid was immediately countered by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who slammed the majority leader for calling up the bill while sidestepping other crucial matters, such as passing a budget.

“China currency may be part of the problem ... but the majority of jobs have been lost for other reasons,” McCain said. “I have to express amazement that the issue of China currency is taking precedent over the myriad of other issues we should be acting on."

But Reid argued that about 2 million American jobs had been lost to China over the last decade because of the trade deficit “fueled by currency manipulation.”

“That massive trade deficit is one reason for our unsustainable unemployment rate,” Reid said.

S. 1619, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011 would create a system under which the Treasury Department would have to determine whether any foreign currencies are in fundamental misalignment and set up a process of negotiating with designated countries. If those talks fail, the bill would allow the government to adjust import prices in order to compensate for undervalued currencies.