China Currency Bill

Later today the Senate will vote on “S. 1619, The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011”. The bill, which is directed towards combating China’s manipulation of the Yuan, would make it easier for the Commerce Department to investigate currency manipulation and hinder the United State Treasury’s ability to avoid the issue. A similar bill was passed, with support from both parties, in the House last year but failed to move once reaching the Senate. However, a continuing worry about the fragile economy and jobs being lost to overseas competitors has prompted a new bipartisan backing in the Senate towards the issue.

Despite a lack of support from the Obama Administration, the legislation appears to have a good chance of passing in the Senate and then moving to the House where Republicans and Democrats alike are known to support the issue. However, in spite of this rare camaraderie in Congress, new questions are casting doubt on the legislation’s success. After a letter last week, sent from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) requested an official position by the Administration, the White House stated it is currently “reviewing” the legislation. Until the Administration takes a position on the bill (an action they were able to avoid when the issue was up in the House last year), it is unknown if the President will use, or threaten to use, his veto power to keep relations with China at a relative calm.

But perhaps almost as important as the outcome of an official White House position on the bill is the position expressed by the Club for Growth, which released a statement urging lawmakers to oppose the measure. This very influential, conservative group’s pressure is undoubtedly directed at Democrats and Republicans alike. In addition to taking a position against what they believe is an anti-trade bill, the Club for Growth has also recognized this as a “key vote” which they will use in their annual review of Congressional Members. After helping to promote fiscally conservative Republicans in the 2010 elections, the Club for Growth and other organizations’ influences are worrisome to Democrats and more centrist Republicans up for reelection. This afternoon will prove to be extremely illustrative as pressure from the Administration and conservative organizations may break down a rare bipartisan bill, which just a few days ago appeared to have sufficient votes to become law.

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