It’s sometimes hard to tell early in a Congress what votes are symbolic and which are real. But one Republican Congressman, Tim Murphy (PA) is introducing legislation that would address trade abuses by China. If this is a real rather than a symbolic effort, we might actually have a chance to fix one of the major problems facing our nation.

Last session, Murphy co-sponsored a similar bill that passed the House but died in the Senate due to Obama’s lack of support. The idea of the legislation last time was that China has a number of policies that make free trade unfair. The bill that passed the House last year concentrated on the issue of currency controls. As is well known, China has set a value for its currency that makes our products overpriced relative to theirs and induces us to import more than we otherwise would. Obviously, this has a negative effect on our balance of trade.

Murphy said that he has been discussing the legislation with the incoming Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Dave Camp (MI), who voted for Murphy’s bill last time. According to the PA Congressman, Camp is interested in a more thorough bill that will also address illegal subsidies and property rights.

Obviously, it is important to have the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee favoring important legislative effort; however, last year both John Boehner and Eric Cantor voted against the bill. Cantor’s position will not change; his wife is an executive at various financial organizations. Boehner may be more malleable, since he represents a district in Ohio.

Who knows if a bill like this can ever pass? Both parties seem driven to drive manufacturing as far from this nation as they can. The Democrats have defaulted on caring about setting policies that permit people to make things here; if the Republicans would move into this empty space, it could provide a real change to our political system.