The U.S. House today passed a bill that would give the president authority to impose tariffs on Chinese products. The New York Times calls it an “unusually confrontational signal to the Chinese leadership” — but also says the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate (though doesn’t say why.)
Both Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Albemarle, and Rick Boucher, D-Abingdon, were among the bill’s 159 co-sponsors.
Perriello issued a statement calling the vote “a big victory for American jobs and American manufacturing, including steel jobs in Southern Virginia.”
Here’s the full text of Perriello’s statement:
Congressman Tom Perriello again voted today to protect American manufacturing jobs and to help make American-made products more competitive. Rep. Perriello co-sponsored the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (H.R. 2378), which passed with bi-partisan support, to crack down on foreign countries, most notably China, whose currency manipulation results in products that are so cheap that American-made products cannot compete. This practice is devastating to manufacturing industries, such as steel and rubber, and the American Manufacturing Alliance estimates that Virginia’s 5th Congressional District lost nearly 6,000 jobs to China from 2001-2008.
“This is a big victory for American jobs and American manufacturing, including steel jobs in Southern Virginia. China’s currency manipulation is illegal, and it is past time to fight back and put America’s competitiveness ahead of foreign corporations,” said Rep. Perriello. “Our area has already lost 6,000 jobs to China and I will not sit on the sidelines while the next generation of advanced manufacturing and clean energy jobs follows them out the door. I want to leverage our manufacturing heritage to start rebuilding our economy around the men and women who make, build, and grow things here in America. After many months of fighting, we are finally getting Washington to turn its attention back to Main Street and a Make it in America agenda.”
Under this bill, the Department of Commerce will be empowered to apply a duty to imported products that are manufactured by nations that engage in unfair currency manipulation. Import duties can only be applied if it is shown that imports benefitting from government subsidies cause or threaten injury to a U.S. industry producing similar products. Currency manipulation is the practical equivalent of a government subsidy and applying a duty will bring the imported product’s price closer to the true market rate and allow American-made products to compete.
China’s currency manipulation has reduced American exports, caused the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs, and significantly contributed to the trade deficit with China. If China allowed its currency to respond to market forces, it could create one million U.S. manufacturing jobs and cut our trade deficit with China by $100 billion a year, with no cost to the U.S. treasury. Chinese currency manipulation threatens the competitiveness of all American-made products, including many manufactured in the 5th District. While visiting the American Buildings Company facility in LaCrosse, Virginia on September 20, Rep. Perriello heard firsthand how currency manipulation is threatening the steel manufacturer.
“China’s currency manipulation puts American workers and products at an unfair disadvantage in our own marketplace, and in markets around the world,” said Bill Cope, Operations Manager of American Buildings Company, in LaCrosse, Virginia, a division of Nucor Corporation. “Representative Perriello’s vote in favor of the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act shows a deep understanding that ending China’s currency manipulation and enforcing the agreed upon rules of global trade is an absolute necessity in order to have a competitive global market that works for everyone. Significantly reforming China currency policy is essential to grow U.S. jobs and preserve and strengthen the U.S. manufacturing sector.”
In March, Rep. Perriello joined dozens of colleagues in asking the Department of Commerce to apply a duty to Chinese imports because of currency manipulation. That request revealed a loophole that prevented the Department of Commerce from acting and today’s bill fixes that flaw.
Reviving America’s manufacturing sector is a top priority for Rep. Perriello. He has voted to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, provide support and resources for workers whose jobs are exported, opposed expansions of NAFTA-style free trade agreements, won inclusion of Virginia-made products in the Home Star energy efficiency bill, and led the fight for the Rural Star program. He has secured federal funding to support manufacturing specifically in Central and Southern Virginia, including infrastructure upgrades in several industrial parks and educational programs to prepare workers and spread manufacturing best-practices.
This bill was the latest piece of the “Make it in America” initiative. In July, Rep. Perriello joined his colleagues to introduce “Make it in America,” which will provide incentives for manufacturing investment in the U.S., create a level playing field for U.S. manufacturers, improve U.S. infrastructure, and strengthen the labor pool through improved education and training programs.
Bills passed as part of “Make it in America” include:
• The National Manufacturing Strategy Act (Co-sponsored by Perriello)
• The U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act
• The End the Trade Deficit Act (Co-sponsored by Perriello)
• The Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act
• Congressional Made in America Promise Act (Co-sponsored by Perriello)