bjbjLULU JUDY WOODRUFF: The stage is now set
for a Senate debate over punishing one of the nation’s most aggressive competitors.
A bill aimed at China’s currency cleared a 60-vote threshold this evening. The move comes
as unemployment here in U.S. remains high and jobs continue to go overseas. NewsHour
congressional correspondent Kwame Holman has our story. KWAME HOLMAN: The colorful Chinese
currency, known as the renminbi or yuan, has been a target of U.S. political leaders for
years. They argue it’s deliberately undervalued to give Chinese companies price advantages
in international trade. The issue reached the U.S. Senate today in a bill to allow countervailing
duties on Chinese goods for currency manipulation. Economic action against China has undeniable
political appeal as lawmakers watch jobs moving to China, even as American unemployment sits
stubbornly above 9 percent. SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R-Ala.: We need to fight for and defend aggressively
every single job this country has. As against unfair trade practices, we need to say no.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: They use the rules of free trade when it benefits them
and spurn the rules of free trade when it benefits them. And for years and years and
years, Americans have grimaced, shrugged their shoulders, but never done anything effective
to, in large measure, stop the Chinese pursuit of unfair mercantilism. KWAME HOLMAN: Others
warn the bill is not the way to address an undervalued Chinese currency, and it could
have unintended consequences. SEN. BOB CORKER, R-Tenn.: And so the United States Senate,
a body of 100 people that are elected for six-year terms, wants to put in place tariffs
on a major, growing country that we have growing exports to and create a trade war, a trade
war between the two largest economies in the world? That’s our response? KWAME HOLMAN:
The U.S. Treasury Department historically has favored negotiations, instead of direct
action. And it now says the Chinese currency has risen in value about 7 percent since June
of last year. At the White House today, spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama has not taken
a position on the Senate bill yet. JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: We’re still in
the process of reviewing it. We share the goal that it represents, which is to achieve
further appreciation of China’s currency. We have seen some appreciation since last
summer, which has been useful and good, but not enough. KWAME HOLMAN: The Chinese say
the Senate bill is expedient and shallow. In a commentary today, the state news agency,
Xinhua, complained: “This has become a common practice. Whenever the U.S. economy is slow,
whenever an election is nearing, voices in the United States pressing for the rise in
the renminbi are all over.” In fact, the issue has entered the 2012 Republican presidential
campaign. But the candidates are divided over how to proceed. MITT ROMNEY, (R) presidential
candidate: We’re going to clamp down on China for not living by the rules that they signed
up to live by. We’re going to make sure they get sanctioned. JON HUNTSMAN, (R) presidential
candidate: What will fix the U.S.-China relationship realistically is fixing our core right here
at home, because our core is weak and it is broken. And we have no leverage at the negotiating
table. KWAME HOLMAN: The Senate’s debate is likely to consume most of this week, but even
if the China currency bill passes there, Republicans in charge of the House say they have no plans
to take it up. urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags country-region urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags
place JUDY WOODRUFF: The stage is now set for a Senate debate over punishing one of
the nation’s most aggressive competitors Normal Microsoft Office Word JUDY WOODRUFF: The stage
is now set for a Senate debate over punishing one of the nation’s most aggressive competitors
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