Budish, Szollosi Push for Congressional Action as Trade Deficit Grows

House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) and Assistant Minority Leader Matt Szollosi (D-Oregon) circulated a letter to all Ohio House members yesterday seeking bipartisan support to urge congressional action on the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act. The letter comes on the heels of news that the U.S trade deficit to China grew by 7.2 percent in July.

“The deficit continues to grow and middle class Ohioans are struggling because jobs have been shipped overseas. Congress should take action and pass the Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act,” said Minority Leader Armond Budish.  “This legislation will take real meaningful steps at putting our economy back on track and preventing the trade deficit from continuing to grow.”

This legislation by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and joined by Senator Rob Portman received bipartisan support in the Senate but has not been brought to the floor for a vote in the U.S. House. This legislation would strengthen the United States’ oversight of currency exchange rates and provide tough new trade laws to hold accountable countries that manipulate their currency rates to gain an unfair foreign trade advantage. China’s currency manipulation makes it difficult to reduce the U.S. – China trade deficit, which damages our economic competiveness and harms Ohio workers.

“Reports show that China’s currency manipulation has cost Ohio 95,500 jobs since 2001, and more than 2.7 million jobs nationwide, most of which were manufacturing jobs. It is simply unacceptable for Congress to stand by and do nothing,” said Assistant Minority Leader Matt Szollosi.

A copy of the letter can be seen below:

September 14, 2012

Speaker John Boehner
Office of the Speaker
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Boehner:

We are writing to urge you to allow a vote on bipartisan legislation to crack down on Chinese currency manipulation.  The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act passed the Senate in October 2011 with strong bipartisan support, including from both Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Rob Portman.  This legislation would create and protect jobs in Ohio and throughout the nation.

In 2011, the U.S.-China trade deficit expanded to more than $295 billion, the highest bilateral trade deficit on record.  While Ohio exports of machinery, aerospace products, and soybeans to China have increased, these exports are still dwarfed by a deluge of Chinese imports. This problem requires action as currency manipulation undermines our economic competitiveness.  The United States, to no avail, has been pressing China to allow the renminbi to appreciate to its market-based value.

The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act is pragmatic legislation – consistent with our international trade commitments – that seeks to reform and enhance oversight of currency exchange rates.  Specifically, the legislation would trigger tough consequences for countries that fail to stop manipulating their currency, and it would ensure U.S. trade laws may be used to counter the economic harm that currency manipulation has inflicted upon U.S. workers, farmers, and manufacturers. As you know, several Ohio industries – from paper, to glass, to aluminum, to steel – use these trade laws to defend against unfair trade. This legislation would provide another valuable tool in the effort to combat these destructive practices.

Even though the China currency legislation passed with strong bipartisan support in the Senate nearly one year ago, the House of Representatives has refused to even bring this bill to the floor for a vote. President Obama should continue pressing this issue with Chinese officials, which is why the Ohio House passed a unanimous resolution on this issue this summer.

Yet it is Congress’ responsibility to provide our nation with the tools needed to fight back against unfair trade practices like currency manipulation.  Our workers and businesses deserve action when it comes to dealing with China’s unfair trade practices.

We urge you to move forward with this legislation and stand ready to support you.

Respectfully,

Armond Budish
Ohio House Minority Leader
8th District

Matthew A. Szollosi
Assistant Minority Leader
49th District

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