WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate is unlikely
to vote on legislation to pressure China to raise the value of
its currency until after the Nov. 2 congressional elections, a
Democratic senator said Tuesday.
Senator Sherrod Brown told reporters he saw strong
bipartisan support for currency legislation the House
is to vote on this week. However, it is
unlikely the Senate will vote on the bill before lawmakers
recess in coming days to go home to campaign, he said.
Many members of Congress believe China deliberately
undervalues its currency by as much as 25 percent to 40 percent
to give its companies an unfair price advantage.
The House bill deals with that issue by directing the
Commerce Department to treat undervalued currencies as an
That opens the door for U.S. companies to seek
"countervailing duties" to offset China's currency advantage.
However, companies must prove they have been injured, or are
threatened with serious injury, by competing imports from China
to win the relief.
"I think a majority of senators, including some number of
Republicans, understand that China is gaming the currency
system 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, is
a "short, readable bill," that is easy to comprehend, Brown
said. He said he thought President Barack Obama would "think
twice" about vetoing the legislation if it reached his desk.
Obama and his advisers understand the United States will
never be able to deal with its $20 billion-a-month trade
deficit with China without addressing the currency issue, Brown
said after a speech on how to revitalize U.S. manufacturing.
House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer told the same audience
lawmakers had worked with the Obama administration to ensure
that the currency bill was consistent with World Trade
"We worked to make sure -- the administration and I and
others wanted to make sure -- ... that it is WTO compliant. It
is not an issue of closing our borders. It is an issue of
making the playing field level and fair," Hoyer said.
"By illegally keeping the value of its currency low, China
is able to sell its goods in the United States at an
artificially low price, which helps put American manufacturers
out of work."
The House will vote on the bill Wednesday, Hoyer told
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office
declined to say whether the Obama administration thought the
bill was consistent with WTO rules.
"We do not typically comment publicly on the
WTO-consistency of pending legislation," she said.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Mohammad Zargham)