This week's visit by China President Hu Jintao -- who will have dinner with President Barack Obama tonight, then a more formal meeting tomorrow -- has sparked all kinds of discussion about the U.S.-China relationship and what it means for our country's economy. One particular issue, which I wrote about today, is the value of China's renmibi currency, long a disputed topic between the two nations. The issue has Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair -- coincidentally or not, a potential challenger to Casey in 2012 -- jockeying for position to be pro-Pennsylvania manufacturing.
On the currency issue, Murphy was a lead co-sponsor and a key Republican voice to pass a bill in the House in September that would authorize the administration to issue trade sanctions against China. Casey has spoken out on the issue and is co-sponsoring a tougher bill in the Senate -- but Murphy accused the senator of being behind an effort that doesn't stand a chance to become law, and implied that the effort is more about public relations than getting a bill done. He also accused Casey of not pushing hard enough to get Murphy's bill through during the lame-duck session.
This afternoon, the get-tough-on-China barrage continued. Both men released letters they wrote to Obama -- Casey's by himself, Murphy's leading more than 30 members of the Congressional steel caucus -- urging him to address China's allegedly unfair trade practices in his meeting with Hu. Both mentioned currency manipulation, with Murphy adding steel dumping and Casey expressing concern about intellectual property rights.
Casey, in addition, announced a press conference Wednesday at the United Steelworkers Building in Downtown Pittsburgh with USW president Leo Gerard to talk about China's trade practices. A spokesman for Casey said the senator's office reached out to Murphy to see if he wanted to join in the press conference, but -- coincidentally or not -- the House is in session tomorrow and Murphy will be in D.C. voting.