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Senators eye October approval of China currency bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of senators said on Thursday they expected the Senate to pass a bill in October that would crack down on Chinese currency practices that they said are costing American jobs.

A key provision would direct the Commerce Department to treat currency undervaluation as a subsidy under U.S. trade law. That would allow companies to seek countervailing duties on Chinese goods on a case-by-case basis.

"There is no better step we can take to put Americans back to work than to pass this bill," Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, told reporters.

He predicted the bill would pass "resoundedly" in the first weeks of October after the Senate returns from a break.

Republican Senators Olympia Snowe, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions and Richard Burr are co-sponsors of the bill along with Democrats Sherrod Brown, Debbie Stabenow and Robert Casey.

"This is about making sure we are exporting our products instead of our jobs," Stabenow said.

The bill also changes current law that requires the Treasury Department to evaluate every six month whether any country is manipulating its currency for an unfair trade advantage.

Instead, it requires the Treasury to identify countries with "fundamentally misaligned" currencies and establishes certain actions that would be triggered if the misalignment is not corrected within 90 days and then a year.

Companies do not have to wait for that finding to ask the Commerce Department to impose countervailing duties on goods from a country that they believe has an undervalued currency.

However, such a finding would strengthen their case, Schumer said. He told reporters President Barack Obama's administration does not support the bill.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Anthony Boadle and Bill Trott)

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