Hundreds of lawmakers push for focus on currency manipulation

The charge is led by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Reps. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) and Sam GravesSam GravesA guide to the committees: House Trump’s infrastructure plan: What we know Why Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog MORE (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, along with John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rick CrawfordRick CrawfordA guide to the committees: House Why a bill about catfish will show whether Ryan's serious about regulatory reform Convention calendar: Parties and events MORE (R-Ark.), an auto industry source told The Hill. 

The letter to President Obama comes after the 11 TPP nations agreed to let Japan join the talks despite strong opposition from U.S. automakers. 

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U.S. automakers have argued that the falling value of the Japanese yen will further add to the U.S. auto trade imbalance with Japan and needs to be addressed in the TPP.

"Undervalued exchange rates allow other countries to boost exports of their products and to impede exports of ours," the letter says. 

"They also contribute to trade imbalances and market access limitations that make it difficult for U.S. companies to compete in foreign countries."

The issue could be raised on Thursday when Michael FromanMichael FromanOvernight Finance: WH floats Mexican import tax | Exporters move to back GOP tax proposal | Dems rip Trump adviser's Goldman Sachs payout Froman heads to Council on Foreign Relations Overnight Finance: Carson, Warren battle at hearing | Rumored consumer bureau pick meets Trump | Trump takes credit for Amazon hirings | A big loss for Soros MORE, Obama's nominee to take the helm of the U.S. Trade Representative, testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on his nomination. 

The letter also cites a report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics that shows that a minimum of 1 million U.S. jobs have been shipped overseas as a result of currency manipulation.

"The consequences are not singular to the U.S.; misaligned currencies are distorting the entire global economy," the lawmakers write. 

"Including currency disciplines in the TPP is consistent with and will bolster our ongoing efforts to respond to these trade-distorting policies. It will also raise TPP to the 21st century agreement standard set by the administration."

On the Senate side, Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownSanders, not Trump, is the real working-class hero A guide to the committees: Senate House bill would prevent Trump from lifting Russian sanctions MORE (D-Ohio) renewed his call for passage of bipartisan currency manipulation legislation following the release on Tuesday of the latest trade deficit figures that show a 34 percent jump in the U.S.-China trade deficit. 

Obama is set to meet later this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping and trade issues are likely to be a focus. 

“As our trade deficit continues to widen, our need to level the playing field for American manufacturers and workers becomes more urgent,” Brown said. 

“Yet instead of taking action, we’re pursuing trade deals with countries that manipulate currencies. Congress won’t let these agreements move without finally imposing penalties on foreign nations that cheat trade laws by manipulating currency.”