By Doug Palmer
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate will waituntil after the Nov. 2 congressional elections to vote onlegislation to pressure China to raise the value of itscurrency, Democratic senators said Tuesday.
Senator Sherrod Brown told reporters he saw strongbipartisan support for currency legislation that the Houseis expected to approve on Wednesday.
However, it is unlikely the Senate will vote on such a billbefore lawmakers recess in coming days to go home to campaign,the Ohio Democrat said.
Later, Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat whohelped craft the Senate's bill, said he would push for a voteon a China currency bill when lawmakers return in November.
Many members of Congress believe China deliberatelyundervalues its currency by as much as 25 percent to 40 percentto give its companies an unfair price advantage.
The House version of the bill deals with that issue bydirecting the Commerce Department to treat undervaluedcurrencies as an export subsidy.
That opens the door for U.S. companies to seekcountervailing duties to offset China's currency advantage.However, companies must prove they have been injured, or arethreatened with serious injury, by competing imports from Chinato win the relief.
"I think a majority of senators, including some number ofRepublicans, understand that China is gaming the currencysystem and that causes an imbalance trade that we need to fix,"Brown, a Senate Banking Committee member, told reporters.
The House bill, unlike many other pieces of legislation, isa "short, readable bill" that is easy to comprehend, Brownsaid. He said he thought President Barack Obama would "thinktwice" about vetoing the legislation if it reached his desk.
Obama and his advisers understand the United States willnever be able to deal with its $20 billion-a-month tradedeficit with China without addressing the currency issue, Brownsaid after a speech on how to revitalize U.S. manufacturing.
House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer told the same audiencelawmakers had worked with the Obama administration to ensurethe currency bill was consistent with World Trade Organizationrules.
"We worked to make sure -- the administration and I andothers wanted to make sure -- ... that it is WTO compliant,"Hoyer said. "It is not an issue of closing our borders. It isan issue of making the playing field level and fair.
"By illegally keeping the value of its currency low, Chinais able to sell its goods in the United States at anartificially low price, which helps put American manufacturersout of work."
The House will vote on its version of the billWednesday, Hoyer told reporters.
If the House and Senate pass different bills, member wouldhave to confer to reach a compromise bill.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative's officedeclined to say whether the Obama administration thought thebill was consistent with WTO rules.
"We do not typically comment publicly on theWTO-consistency of pending legislation," she said.
Schumer praised the House for pushing ahead on itslegislation, but said provisions of the bipartisan Senate billwould give the White House additional tools to pressure Chinaon the currency issue.
"This issue cannot wait for another year or for a newCongress," he said. "I am confident that this bill will passthe Senate with overwhelming support."
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Mohammad Zargham andBill Trott)