White House voices concern on China currency bill

Updated: 2011-10-06 07:41


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WASHINGTON - The White House on Wednesday expressed "concerns" over a controversial bill on the so-called " currency manipulation" by China.

The legislation raises "concerns about consistency with our international obligations, and we are in the process of discussing those issues with members of Congress," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"If this legislation were to advance, those concerns should be addressed," he said, without going into detail about the White House concerns.

The US Senate on Monday cleared a procedural vote to advance the bill -- Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011 -- which sets in motion a process for imposing punitive tariffs on a country with misaligned currencies, noticeably Chinese renminbi, or yuan.

Even if the measure passed a floor vote in the Senate, it needs to get approval from the House before it could reach the president to sign into law.

Chances of the bill moving forward in the House of Representatives appeared doubtful as Republican House Speaker John Boehner came out against the bill on Tuesday.

"It's pretty dangerous to be moving legislation through the United States Congress forcing someone to deal with the value of their currency," Boehner said.

"This is well beyond what Congress ought to be doing, and while I've got concerns about how the Chinese have dealt with their currency, I'm not sure this is the way to fix it."

Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor earlier warned an "escalation" in trade tensions could have painful "unintended consequences" and said President Barack Obama should use existing powers "if there are unfair practices going on."

Immediately after the Senate vote on Monday, the Chinese government expressed its strong opposition to the US Senate move, warning that it "seriously violates rules of the World Trade Organization and obstructs China-US trade ties."

US media, including the Washington Post editorial, said the Senate bill is "counterproductive" and will do more harm than good to the United States.