WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Wednesday acknowledged China's yuan had appreciated against the dollar and voiced concern that legislation coming up in the Senate could breach U.S. international obligations.
"We have, from the beginning as an administration, worked on the issue of the undervalued Chinese currency. And it has appreciated to some degree as a result, we think, of those efforts. More needs to be done," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate is expected to vote on Thursday on legislation designed to press China to let its yuan currency rise in value. This sets the stage for debate in the House of Representatives, whose Republican leader has called the bill a "dangerous" overreach by lawmakers.
While reiterating that it shared lawmakers' desire to ensure that U.S. workers and businesses face a level playing field when competing with China, the White House hardened its criticism of the legislation compared with recent comments.
"We certainly also have concerns about this particular legislation, and whether or not it would create consistency issues with our international obligations," Carney said.
The U.S. Senate voted 79-19 on Monday 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.
"We're talking with members of Congress about it. If this legislation were to advance and emerge from Congress, we would continue to talk with members about the need to address these concerns," Carney said, making clear President Barack Obama, a Democrat, does not like the legislation in its current form.
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Alister Bull, editing by Eric Beech and Cynthia Osterman)