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 GravesSamuel (Sam) Bruce GravesHouse passes bipartisan water infrastructure bill Lawmakers left with more questions than answers on Trump infrastructure plan Five obstacles to Trump's infrastructure ambitions MORE (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, along with John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rick CrawfordRichard (Rick) CrawfordWhy DOJ must block the Cigna-Express Scripts merger Elvis impersonator named Elvis Presley running for Congress Overnight Tech: Senate Dems want FCC chief recused from Sinclair merger | Tech rallies on Capitol Hill for DACA | Facebook beefs up lobbying ranks 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 B.G. FromanUS trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report Overnight Finance: Trump hits China on currency manipulation, countering Treasury | Trump taps two for Fed board | Tax deadline revives fight over GOP overhaul | Justices set to hear online sales tax case Froman joins Mastercard to oversee global business expansion 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 Campbell BrownWarren to put hold on Trump consumer bureau nominee Stop labeling babies as 'born addicted' — it stigmatizes them and is inaccurate Trump surprises with consumer agency pick 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.”