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Some House Republicans mull action on China trade

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some members of the new Republican-majority in the House want to try again to pass measures that address China's alleged trade abuses, a Republican who last year co-sponsored a bill on China's currency said on Friday.

Representative Tim Murphy from Pennsylvania told Reuters he hasn't given up on addressing the long-running trade dispute with China. But to succeed, he will also need to overcome the resistance some leaders of his own party showed last year.

Many lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have complained for years that China's policies, including its currency controls, create an unfair trade advantage for Beijing.

China's huge trade surplus with the United States and currency controls are likely to loom large in talks between President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, when the Chinese president visits on January 19.

Last September, when Democrats still ran the House, the chamber passed a bill co-sponsored by Murphy and Democrat Tim Ryan threatening China with tariffs on Chinese exports if Beijing did not let its currency rise faster. But a related measure died in the Senate after the White House declined to push it.

Now Republicans are in charge of the House, "We're not letting go of this, but working on an overall comprehensive package that deals with fair trade rules," Murphy said.

"I'm reviewing this with Chairman Camp," he said of Representative Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade issues.

"He (Camp) said he would like to approach this as a more comprehensive package" dealing with unfair Chinese trade and manufacturing policies, Murphy said.

Such a package could also include provisions addressing illegal subsidies, intellectual property violations and "indigenous innovation," Murphy said.

That last item refers to Chinese attempts to promote domestic innovation by imposing unfavorable terms on foreign companies -- such as requiring them to develop and register intellectual property in China.

Camp voted for the currency manipulation bill Murphy co-sponsored last September.

The bill pressing China to let its currency rise faster passed by a vote of 348-79 last September, with 99 Republicans joining 249 Democrats to pass it. But then-minority leader and now House Speaker John Boehner voted against. So did then-minority whip but now Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

House Democrats apparently have not given up on the issue either, even as the minority.

The Democrats had hoped to bring up a version of the Chinese currency legislation on Friday as an amendment to another measure, a Democratic leadership aide said. But they lost a procedural vote that would have opened the floor to amendments.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

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