This was a vote final passage of legislation that would attempt to force China to raise the value of its currency (the yuan). If China did not raise the value of the yuan, the bill would increase tariffs on Chinese exports. Supporters of this bill argued that American manufacturers could not compete with Chinese exports unless China agreed to raise the value of the yuan. Opponents of the bill argued that it would force U.S. consumers to pay more for products made in China.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urged support for this bill: “In a few minutes, we are going to vote on a bill that could actually change the course of how we trade with China. For a decade, getting worse every year, China has taken advantage of America in every way. Currency is at the top of the list, but it has been the theft of intellectual property, it has been the subsidy of indigenous Chinese businesses…and it has been excluding American products from China when those products would have a competitive advantage. For the first time, this body, in a bipartisan way, has the ability to say enough is enough. Uncle Sam is no longer Uncle Sap. We are going to create fair trade with China. This relates to our future because it no longer is competition over shoes or clothing or furniture--labor-intensive businesses. It is competition over the most high-end things we do. Our companies can win and create jobs here in America if China plays by the rules and plays fairly. But everyone who has been up close and seen the way the Chinese operate know that will not happen by persuasion, by multilateral talks, by wishing it were so or even by the healing of time. It will only happen if America stands up for itself--for fairness, for equal treatment. For the first time, we have the opportunity to get that to happen.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) opposed the bill: “This morning, the Senate will have the opportunity to send a strong message to China and the world community. Whether that signal is one of inward protectionism or outward engagement remains to be seen. In my mind, the choice is clear….We are also telling the world community that the United States is turning inward once again, seeking protectionist solutions to global problems, and not interested in working with other countries to solve our current international economic crisis. At the same time, we would be interjecting further uncertainty into our own economic recovery as our exporters and workers face potential retaliation from one of our leading trading partners.”
The Senate passed this bill by a vote of 63-35. 47 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 16 Republicans voted “yea.” 30 Republicans and 5 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate passed legislation that would attempt to force China to raise the value of its currency. In order for this bill to become law, however, it would have to pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law by the president. When this vote occurred, the House had not yet acted on the bill.