Schumer vows to move China currency legislation

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner put off a report in April on whether China manipulates its currency to secure a trade advantage. The decision contributed to warming relations between the United States and China, which have bickered this year over a number of economic issues.

Currency has been the biggest fight, as U.S. labor groups and manufacturers argue China’s low currency allows it to export products more cheaply at the expense of U.S. jobs. But it’s tough for the administration to take a hard line with China when it needs the Asian giant’s cooperation on issues ranging from Iran sanctions to the handling of North Korea.

The economic crisis in Europe has made it more difficult for China to strengthen its currency, which rises and falls with changes in the dollar’s value. The euro’s fall in value has made Chinese exports more expensive in the EU, spooking a government determined to keep up its growing trade.

In animated testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Schumer said China’s deliberate undervaluation of its currency was responsible for millions of lost jobs in the United States.

“More than any single stimulus program we could pass into law, forcing China to revalue its currency is the biggest step we could take to protect American jobs,” Schumer said.

Schumer expressed disappointment with what he called a wavering stance toward China, saying it was time for lawmakers to “put up or shut up.”

Schumer said he was confident the bill would pass the Senate overwhelmingly.

“This is not about China-bashing,” Schumer said. “This is about defending the United States.”