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The U.S. Senate has approved the 'Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act,' a bill that could lead to the imposition of sanctions on China for its alleged manipulation of currencies. Voting on October 11, 2011, the Senate approved the bill by 63-35. It is unclear, however, whether the bill will be voted upon in the House of Representatives.
The Senate version of the bill, designated as S.1619, is sponsored by Senator Sherrod Brown (Democrat of Ohio) and 19 bipartisan cosponsors. It would require the Treasury Secretary to identify misaligned currencies, authorize the use of trade-remedy laws to address currency manipulation, and require other consultative and potentially punitive actions against countries that are found to misalign their currency.
Prospects for the legislation are less clear in the House of Representatives, where the Republican leadership has thus far blocked consideration of the bill ont he floor. In the current Congress, House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (Democrat of Michigan) reintroduced the 'Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act' (H.R.639) in the opening days of the 112th Congress. It currently claims 218 bipartisan cosponsors (i.e., just over half the members of the 435-seat House).
Speaker of the House John Boehner (Republican of Ohio) has publicly stated that he has no plans to bring the bill to the floor for consideration. His opposition could be overwhelmed if supporters of the House version are able to attract at least 218 signatories to the discharge petition filed in July by Representative Mark Critz (Democrat of Pennsylvania). As of October 6, the petition had 176 signatories; to get the needed 218, at least 42 of the other 49 sponsors of the bill would need to sign the petition.
The bill was also under consideration in the previous 111th Congress (2009-2010). The House of Representatives approved it by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 348-79 on September 29, 2010, but it later died for want of action in the Senate.
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