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New Senate Bill Would Force Crack Down on China's Currency Manipulation

A bipartisan Senate coalition introduced a bill Thursday that attempts to force the Obama administration to crack down on China currency manipulation, calling the legislation a "jobs bill."

Lawmakers cited estimates that nearly 3 million jobs have been lost to China manipulating its currency.

For years, China has been getting away "with economic murder," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. He's been at the forefront of the tough talk on China's currency, a topic that for years has set several administrations on edge. 

"This has nothing to do with protectionism. Rather, it has to do with principles that make free trade work," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

The bill requires Treasury to identify "misaligned currencies" and requires action by the administration to act if the accused country fails to act. It also allows U.S. companies to request a federal investigation with proper identification.

But the bill provides a waiver to the president if his or her administration finds that action might harm national security or "vital economic interests." Congress would then have to pass a resolution of disapproval, which the president could then veto, though lawmakers could override that action with a two-thirds majority in both chambers. 

"This is about making sure we're exporting our products, not our jobs," said Sen Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

Sen Richard Burr, R-NC, describing the bill, said, "It enhances our oversight to recognize and define manipulation, and it says to administrations, 'We're going to open your entire tool box.'"

"To the administration, we're saying: The time for asking China nicely is over. ... We mean business," said Schumer, normally a close ally of the Obama White House.

Administrations past and current have pushed back heavily against such actions by Congress.  Schumer said the administration does not support this bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry, D-Nev, has promised a vote soon. Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat in the chamber, said that the vote would likely come by mid-October, and he confidently predicted, "We expect it to pass the Senate resoundingly."

Sen Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, a former House member, added that there is "significant support in the House," particularly from the large contingent of Tea Party freshmen.

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