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Pa. Delegation At Center of China Currency Manipulation Debate

By Geoffrey Middleberg, Contributing Writer

On June 16, 2011 Rep. Mark Critz (D-Cambria) introduced H.Res.310, a bill with the intent of classifying China as a currency manipulator.

Today, Rep. Critz spoke in support of a procedural motion which would have gutted and replaced the Columbia Free Trade Agreement with another piece of legislation, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, of which Rep. Critz is a co-sponsor.

Rep. Critz said, “Since China’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization, we have lost nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs, and our overall trade deficit with China has grown to over $273 billion. Our manufacturers are hurting, the American people are hurting.”

He continued, “We must send a strong message that the United States will not stand idly by while foreign currency manipulators destroy American manufacturing jobs.”

The motion failed, but of the four Republicans who crossed party lines to vote in favor of the motion, there was one Pennsylvanian, Rep. Todd Platts (R-York).

It is fairly rare in Washington for members to cross party lines on this particular motion, a motion to recommit.

This all comes on the heels of the Senate, which acted earlier this week and passed legislation compelling the U.S. Treasury to force the issue China currency manipulation with retaliatory tariffs. As a result of the Senate vote, there has been a buildup of pressure on the House GOP leadership to hold a vote on the measure. GOP leadership, in turn, has said they are waiting on the President to issue a policy statement on the Senate legislation before they act.

After the Senate vote, The Hill wrote an article about the ongoing efforts of Rep. Critz, who was circulating a discharge petition, a method by which members of the House of Representatives can force a vote on any piece of legislation, if they gather 218 signatures on the petition.

Two possible signers of the petition include Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Chester) and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny) but to do so, they would have to buck their party leadership and they would create a potential embarrassment for Speaker Boehner. Neither Gerlach nor Murphy voted for the motion today on the floor of the House.

Free trade deals with Panama and South Korea – in addition to the Columbia bill Critz sought to alter – passed both chambers of Congress last night. With two exceptions, PA’s delegation split along party lines on all three: Senator Pat Toomey and House Republicans voted yes, Senator Bob Casey and House Democrats voted no.

Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Montco/Phila) and Chaka Fattah (D-Phila) each voted in favor of the free trade agreement with Panama.

One Response

  1. I believe you mean Colombia; a free trade agreement with Columbia would be redundant considering Article 1, Section 10, Clause 2 of the US Constitution.

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