Pelosi Floor Speech Urging House to Consider China Currency Bill Ahead of Trade Bills
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today on H.R. 3078, the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act. Below are the Leader’s remarks.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and thank him for his great leadership on protecting American workers while promoting the global economy which we are proudly a part of.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today as we consider the Colombia Free Trade Agreement to make the following statement. Much has been said about this agreement creating 6,000 jobs in the United States. 6,000 jobs. Now we want to fight for every single job for the American people. But it is ironic or strange to hear a big fuss about, ‘We have to do this because it is going to create 6,000 jobs.’ when the leadership of this body is totally ignoring the fact that we are losing 1 million jobs, 1 million jobs because of the China currency bill.
“When it was discussed that these bills would be brought to the floor, many of us said we shouldn’t even be considering these bills–6,000 for Colombia, perhaps 70,000 for Korea, maybe 1,000 for Panama. 77,000 jobs–that’s significant if, in fact, those numbers really bear out. But let’s assume they do for a moment. We are making a big deal out of 77,000 jobs, which are a big deal, but how much bigger a deal is it to say we are ignoring the fact that we are losing over 1 million jobs per year because of the China manipulation of their currency.
“The distinguished Speaker has said if we push this bill, we will start a trade war with China. My, have I heard that song before. Many of us have been fighting for a better relationship with China in terms of our trade relationship, and for at least two decades we’ve been fighting for opening of our markets to China, to stop the piracy of our intellectual property, the list goes on.
“But this manipulation of currency–okay so Speaker says we are going to start a trade war. 20 years ago, when we started this debate following Tiananmen Square, our trade deficit with China was $5 billion a year. We tried to use our leverage with most favored nation status to get the Chinese to open their markets, stop pirating intellectual property, etc. And everybody said, ‘If you do that, you will start a trade war. Just let the natural course of events take place.’
“Well, we didn’t start a trade war. But do you know what China’s surplus with the United States is today? What our deficit is with China–$5 billion dollars a year 2 decades, 20 years ago when we fought this fight and lost. It’s now $5 billion per week. Over, over, more than $5 [b]illion a week, over a quarter of a trillion dollars in surplus does the Chinese government enjoy in their relationship with the United States. So you’re telling me that if we say, ‘We want you to act fairly in terms of your currency’ that they are going to give up a quarter of a trillion dollars in surplus, much bigger exports to the United States, but in surplus.
“This manipulation in currency is a subsidy of the Chinese government for their products. So by subsidizing their exports, they make it uncompetitive not for us–not only in the U.S.-China bilateral trade relationship, but also in the global marketplace where we have to compete, our exports have to compete with China’s exports and they have subsidized their exports on the manipulation of about 25 percent of their currency. 25 percent manipulation. This is just not fair. A million U.S. jobs.
“So when our colleagues make a fuss about 6,000, every one of them is precious to us. Yes. But why are we missing in action when it comes to a million jobs if 6,000 jobs are so important? And I agree they are.
“Last night in the Senate, they passed this legislation. They passed legislation to take action if China continues to manipulate their currency. We shouldn’t even be talking about any trade bills until we do the same. They’re not voting on Colombia, Korea, and Panama before they voted on China. They did that. They staked their claim for the American workers.
“The Speaker says we are going to start a trade war. The Chinese government started a war with America’s manufacturing sector a long time ago. They have undervalued their currency, as I’ve said. They violate our intellectual property rights. They’ve subsidized targeted industries. They’ve dumped their products into our country. This is a one way street to the disadvantage of American workers.
“Look. Many of us, when we grew up, we dug a hole in the sand at the beach and we said we were going to reach China if we were digging far enough, we dug far enough. It is a country that we want to have a brilliant relationship with, culturally, economically, politically, in every possible way, economically too.
“But when are we going to call a halt to something that is so obvious? We’re talking about not an 800 pound gorilla, an 8 ton gorilla that is lying on the floor of this House that we want to ignore so we can talk about 6,000 jobs and 70,000 jobs–which are important, I don’t want to minimize that. But why are you minimizing a million jobs at least that would be affected?
“You know, it’s funny to me because when we were having the fight on most favored nation status with China, we were winning every vote. We just couldn’t override the presidential vetoes. And so they had to change the name. You’ve hear the expression PNTR. Do you know what that means? It went from most favored nation–which they said that sounds, we can’t win that argument–to permanent normal trade relations. You know what that means? Surrender all your leverage in the trade relationship. Surrender, oh because this is a permanent normal trade relationship.
“So when specific things come up like the manipulation of currency–and by the way, other Asian economies peg their currency to China’s currency, so we’re getting an onslaught of this–it’s really, really important for us to say, who are we here for? Who are we representing? We have a ‘Make It In America’ agenda to grow and to strengthen our industrial and manufacturing base in our country. Exports are essential to our success economically. Small businesses are essential to the success of our economy. Small businesses want to export as well.
“But why are we saying to small business people, to our industrial workers, to our manufacturing base, ‘You are now going to go into an arena which we have subscribed to that makes it you engage in unfair relationship because we will not speak out against this manipulation of currency.’
“61 Republicans are cosponsors of the bill. It has bipartisan support. The Senate has passed the bill overwhelmingly with bipartisan support. They took it up first as a premise, planting a flag, staking a claim for the American worker before they went on to consider other trade agreements.
“Why can’t we do that in the House? I think we should call a halt to voting on any of these things until we say to the American worker: ‘We’re on your side. We’re on your side when it comes to these trade agreements.’ We recognize that trade is very important to us. President Kennedy is part of the legacy of all of us here, talking about America as important in the world economy and free trade, fair trade I like to think as part of that.
“But after 20 years of violation of our intellectual property, subsidizing their product, the list goes on and on. We just sit by and say, ‘We are going to start a trade war if we do something about the war on America’s manufacturers that the Chinese already have done.’
“Remember 20 years ago, they made the same claims–$5 billion a year. How did that work out for us? Today, $5 billion a week at least. So the Chinese are going to walk away from a quarter of a trillion dollars in profits? I don’t think so. Let’s stop riding that tiger. Let’s do the right thing for our workers. Let’s not even consider any of these trade agreements.
“Since we are talking about Colombia, I want to say the following. I really wanted very much to be able to vote for this legislation. I was very hopeful when the two governments–Colombia and the U.S.–negotiated the U.S. Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights. They addressed labor concerns and to start the process of ending the abuses. But the commitments made, that didn’t happen. The Administration was advocating for this but the leadership in the Congress said no. The leadership in this House said no. We’re not going to put in language in the bill the language that the two governments negotiated to address the labor concerns. If it’s not in the bill, it doesn’t exist.
“If we’re going to implement this action plan, it has to be part of legislation or else we are just saying it’s an incidental, it’s something on the side. That’s not fair to the workers in Colombia or to the workers in the United States. So when the commitment made by our government and Colombia to each other was not included in the bill, I lost my faith in the legislation.
“I hope that today we can get a vote on China manipulation of currency, get a Colombia free trade agreement that can work for Colombian workers and U.S. workers and get a trade policy that recognizes that it’s a competitive world. We intend to be number one. We intend to be innovative. We intend to educate our workforce so that we, our entrepreneurial spirit can prevail. It could be a very exciting time, something new, something fresh instead of we are reverting to the same old, same old ways.
“So I urge my colleagues to urge the leadership of this House to take up the China currency bill before we consider any other trade bills.
“I yield back the balance of my time.”