WASHINGTON, Oct. 6- The Senate voted to move forward with the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011, which would put pressure on China to allow the yuan to increase in value.
The legislation advanced by a procedural vote of 62 to 38. Sixty votes were needed to move to a final majority vote in the Senate, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said could take place tonight or Friday morning.
Twelve Republican Senators broke with leadership to support the measure, led by Sen. Linsdey Graham (R-S.C.) on the Senate floor today. They include: Brown (R-MA), Burr (R-NC), Chambliss (R-GA), Cochran (R-MS), Collins (R-ME), Graham (R-SC), Hoeven (R-ND), Isakson (R-GA), Portman (R-OH), Sessions (R-AL), Shelby (R-AL) and Snowe (R-ME).
McCaskill (D-Mo.), Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Murray (D-Wash.) gave the only Democratic nays.
The measure may face greater opposition if it moves to the Republican-led House. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) opposes the bill and said threatening China with trade sanctions over a currency dispute would be “pretty dangerous.”
The White House has not made a formal statement about the administration’s position on the bill, but President Barack Obama commented on the issue during this morning’s press conference.
“China has been very aggressive in gaming the trading system to its advantage and to the disadvantage of other countries, particularly the United States,” he said. “Currency manipulation is one example. We’ve seen some improvement over the last year, but it’s not enough.”
Obama called the legislation “an effort” to fix the problem, but said he is concerned about whether the tools to implement it would be consistent with international trade obligations.
“We don’t want to pass rules that are symbolic but not held up by the World Trade Organization,” he said.
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