Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this evening in support of H.R. 2378, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, which is a key part of Democrats' 'Make It In America' initiative to increase American manufacturing and create new American jobs. The legislation passed the House by an overwhelming vote of 348 to 79. Below are the Speaker's remarks.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank you for the recognition and yielding of time from our distinguished Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. I thank him for his leadership in bringing this legislation to the floor. I thank Mr. Murphy of Pennsylvania and Mr. Ryan of Ohio for their leadership in this important legislation.
“Mr. Speaker, for so many years, we have watched the China-U.S. trade deficit grow and grow and grow. And today, we are finally doing something about it by recognizing that China's manipulation of the currency represents a subsidy for Chinese exports coming to the United States and elsewhere.
“Many of us have been working on this issue for decades. Twenty years ago, when the issue of China trade was before the floor of the House, the trade deficit was $5 billion a year. The U.S.-China trade deficit was $5 billion a year. We thought that gave us tremendous leverage for them to stop violating our intellectual property, to give us market access, to stop non tariff barriers to our products going into China and the rest. We had other issues with China's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to Pakistan, with the actions taken at Tiananmen Square, and human rights issues in China and Tibet.
“But strictly on the subject of trade, the imbalance was $5 billion a year, which seemed like an enormous amount of money. We tried through legislation unsuccessfully on the floor--under both Democratic and Republican Presidents. This was not a partisan thing. And because of the opposition of the Administrations, we were not able to pass any legislation that said: ‘Halt.' We understand the U.S.-China relationship is an important one in every way--culturally, politically, diplomatically, economically--but we both need to play by the rules. When China came into the WTO, it was projected that they would play by the rules.
“But here we are today, and remember I said the trade deficit was $5 billion a year 20 years ago when we were having this debate then. It is now $5 billion a week. A week! One way that we can address that is to address the issue of China's manipulation of their currency, which, as I mentioned, is a subsidy for their exports.
“We believe that passing this legislation here today will give the President leverage in his conversations with the Chinese about how seriously and closely the American people are watching this situation.
“This part of our ‘Make It in America' agenda to stop the erosion of our manufacturing, industrial and technological base--we have to stop that. It's an economic issue. It's a national security issue that we have the manufacturing capacity to protect the American people in every way.
“So this is about America's workers. It's about ‘Making It in America' so that our people can make it in America--for the families, for their communities, for our country, for our economy. Especially now when we are talking about all the new green technologies and the rest, which are part of the green, clean energy jobs for the future, and we see what is happening in the trade relationship with China on that score. It is absolutely essential as we prepare for, well we are into that future, as we go farther into that future that we do not have unfair subsidies of Chinese exports into the United States in the important competitive arena of innovation and new green technology.
“So with this bipartisan, again, I commend Representative Tim Murphy, Representative Tim Ryan. Two Tims.
“As part of this part of this bipartisan legislation, we make it clear that if China wants a strong trading relationship with the United States, it must play by the rules. We owe that to American workers. It is our hope that by passing this legislation, the Obama Administration and future Administrations will have greater leverage in its bilateral and multilateral negotiations with the Chinese government.
“We do this because 1 million American jobs could be created if the Chinese government took its thumb off the scale and allowed its currency to respond to market forces.
“The bipartisan Ryan-Murphy Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act marks a positive step in a direction of fairness for our workers, opportunities for our manufacturers, and growth for our economic prosperity.
“I urge our colleagues to vote ‘aye' and yield back the balance of my time.”