Still, 16 Republicans, mainly from states hard-hit by job loss, joined all but four Democrats to pass the Senate bill, 63 to 38.
“We are getting hurt in this relationship,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama, whose state has lost some 44,300 jobs to China since 2001, according to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute.
In 2010, the House, then controlled by Democrats, passed a similar currency bill with broad bipartisan support. Ninety-nine Republicans, notably not including top leaders, voted with all but five Democrats to pass the measure, 348 to 79. It failed to get to a vote in the Senate.
Today, the situation is reversed. The Senate, driven by lawmakers from states hard-hit by the China trade, passed a currency bill that the House is unlikely to take up and the White House has yet to endorse.
House Speaker John Boehner says the bill would set off a “very dangerous” trade war with China. House leaders, claiming that the White House is with them, would prefer working the issue out through negotiation with China.
On Monday, China’s vice-foreign minister Cui Tiankai said at a news briefing that if the US Senate bill were to become law, it would result in a trade war between the US and China that “would be a lose-lose situation for both sides.”