The Senate voted today to threaten China with higher tariffs on Chinese products made cheap through an artificially undervalued currency, which lawmakers blame for destroying American jobs. The House of Representatives, though, is unlikely to take up the bill, which some American businesses warn could trigger a trade war. The 63-35 vote showed a broad bipartisan consensus that it is time to end diplomatic niceties with China and confront it over its aggressive trade policies.
"There are always people who don't want to stand up to China, and I think they are, frankly, undercutting our ability to stop the hemorrhaging in our manufacturing jobs," said Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. Still, the bill could die in the House, where a companion measure has the sponsorship of more than half the members but lacks the support of the majority Republican leadership, including John Boehner. Advocates for the bill say it will make American goods more competitive and support more than 1 million new jobs. Critics warn that it will provoke Chinese retaliation and hurt Americans in one of their fastest-growing markets.