- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2011

President Obama is still pressing Congress to pass his jobs-stimulus bill immediately, but Democratic Party leaders in the Senate once again have delayed taking a vote on the legislation and instead will take up a bill to punish China over its currency valuation.

Senators late Monday passed a bill to keep the government open into the next fiscal year and then adjourned for the rest of the week, but Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said when they return they’ll take up the China measure rather than Mr. Obama’s jobs plan.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important for a jobs measure than China trade,” said Mr. Reid, who is the chief Senate sponsor of Mr. Obama’s plan, but who said taking on China is a bigger priority right now.

Mr. Obama sees it differently.

"I don't think there's anything more important for a jobs measure than China trade," says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. The Senate has adjourned for the rest of the week. (Associated Press)
“I don’t think there’s anything more important for a jobs measure than ... more >

During a three-day swing through the West this week, he has demanded Congress act, and even had wealthy donors at one event in West Hollywood, Calif., chanting “Pass the bill! Pass the bill!”

“Pass the jobs bill. I need your help to tell Congress to pass this jobs bill right now,” Mr. Obama said.

The president’s plan would combine $447 billion in temporary tax cuts and infrastructure spending over the next several years, which would be offset with permanent tax cuts that would raise $467 billion over the next decade.

While the tax cuts and spending have some support, there is bipartisan opposition to his tax increases, making that bill a tough sell in either chamber.

“We’ll get to that, but let’s get some of these things done that we have to get done first,” Mr. Reid said.

The office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, declined to comment on the schedule.

The legislation Mr. Reid has placed ahead of the jobs bill is a bipartisan bill that combines the efforts of two other bipartisan bills to try to force China to increase the value of its currency, the yuan, compared with the U.S. dollar.

The bill would make it clear that the U.S. considers an undervalued currency an illegal manipulation, and that would trigger several punishments including halting federal procurement from those countries and imposing compensatory tariffs for goods from those countries.

Twenty senators, including five Republicans, have signed on to the bill. An earlier version has been introduced in the House, where it has 200 co-sponsors — many of them also members of the GOP.

“How much longer is Congress willing to stand by and watch thousands of jobs move to China?” said Sherrod Brown, the Ohio Democrat who is chief sponsor of the Senate version. “Rhetoric has done little to solve the problem. We must equip the Obama administration with the tools it needs to crack down on China’s currency manipulation and help level the playing field for American businesses.”

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