Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner Tuesday called legislation moving through Congress to crack down on China's manipulation of its currency "dangerous," arguing it's not Congress' role to intervene in the issue.
"I think it's pretty dangerous to be moving legislation through the United States Congress forcing someone to deal with the value of their currency," Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill. "This is well beyond, I think, what the Congress ought to be doing."
After clearing a procedural hurdle Monday night, the Senate is expected to pass a bill later this week that would impose penalties on countries whose currency is now undervalued. House Republicans have been split on the issue. While about 60 House GOP members have signed on as co-sponsors of a similar House measure pushed by Democrats, most business groups oppose Congressional action, and top GOP leaders have indicated they oppose moving any bill.
House Democrats seized on Boehner's comments, arguing that GOP refusal to schedule a vote meant they were undercutting the U.S. manufacturers who were urging Congress to help level the playing field for them to export their goods.
"This is a message from the Republican Party, from Speaker Boehner, to all those small and medium-sized manufacturers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New England, in Indiana, in Michigan, in New Jersey, all across the industrial Midwest that your help, the Congress helping you, is dead on arrival," Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan said. "The Republican party no longer represents the small and medium-sized manufacturer."
But Democrats haven't found an ally in President Barack Obama on this issue either. The White House has failed to formally weigh in on the issue.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday the administration was still discussing the issue with members of Congress. "We share the concerns of members about the valuation of the currency and the need to appreciate it," Carney said.
Michigan Democratic Rep. Sander Levin, one of the chief advocates of the House version of the bill, noted that he has bipartisan support from more than 200 House members and was still hopeful the White House would get behind the measure.
Pointing to the statements from administration officials that they were still looking at the matter, Levin said, "I look upon that as a small sign of some encouragement."
Levin maintained it's up to the House Republicans to schedule a vote. "The leadership of the Republican Party should not slam the door on it - the White House is not, at this point, and it should not."