Senate eyes Thursday vote on China currency bill

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 05, 2011 1:16 PM
Senate eyes Thursday vote on China currency bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate is expected to vote on Thursday on legislation designed to press China to let its yuan currency rise in value, setting the stage for debate in the House of Representatives, whose leader has called the bill a "dangerous" overreach by lawmakers.

Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, one of the bipartisan bill's authors, said he was confident the Senate would take up the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011, which cleared a key procedural vote on Monday.

"I expect the vote will be tomorrow," he told reporters after Senate discussions of amendments initially appeared to indicate delays in a legislative effort that China has angrily denounced and U.S. business groups say is ill-advised.

On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted 79-19 to start debate on the bill, which calls for U.S. tariffs on imports from countries with deliberately undervalued currencies, prompting an angry rebuke from China.

Brown pointed to that vote as a sign the bill would easily clear the Senate.

"This bill doesn't cost taxpayer dollars. It actually will help reduce the budget deficit, so ... other than those who want to stand with companies that outscore jobs to China, I don't see where any real opposition to this bill should come from," he said.

On Tuesday, however, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, who has the power to prevent debate in his chamber, voiced strong misgivings about the currency legislation.

"I think it's pretty dangerous to be moving legislation through the United States Congress forcing someone to deal with the value of their currency," Boehner told reporters.

Many economists say China holds down the value of its yuan currency to give its exporters an edge in global markets. China says it is committed to gradual currency reform and notes that the yuan has risen 30 percent against the dollar since 2005.

(Reporting by Paul Eckert; Editing by Doina Chiacu)