(Reuters) - The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation to pressure China to let its currency rise faster, fanning the flames of a long-running dispute over trade and jobs.
The bill passed by a vote of 348-79. Both Democrats and Republicans, speaking just over a month ahead of mid-term elections in which the economy has taken center stage, said it was time to take action to support U.S. jobs.
The House vote, with about 100 Republicans joining Democrats to pass the bill, cleared the legislation for action in the Senate.
However, any vote in the Senate won't come until after congressional elections on November 2 when the U.S. political landscape could be greatly changed, and odds have appeared to be against passage in the Senate.
The bill treats China's exchange rate as a subsidy, opening the door to extra duties on Chinese goods entering the United States, some of which are already subject to special levies.
"China's persistent manipulation of its currency contributes to the outsourcing of American jobs and poses a very serious problem that requires real action," said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin.