House Democrats are expected to pass legislation Friday aimed at making the United States more competitive with China as Utah congressmen expressed outrage over the lack of Republican input on what they say should be a bipartisan issue.
Rep. Chris Stewart said the Democrats and Republicans agree on much about dealing with China and could have written a bill together, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., “simply didn’t let us.”
“She includes things in this that she knows that we’re going to vote against, and she’s doing it for political reasons so she can point the finger at Republicans and say, ‘Look, they’re not working with us. They’re not serious about this.’ It’s just not true,” said Stewart, who sits on the House China Task Force.
“My heavens, Republicans have been leading on confronting China for a long, long time, and so I’m disappointed in that.”
The $325 billion Competes Act is aimed at investing in domestic research and manufacturing to enhance the country’s global competitiveness. It includes $45 billion in grants and loans to increase U.S. manufacturing of other key technology components to clear the supply chain.
The bill also has provisions for climate change mitigation efforts abroad and to remove caps on green cards for doctoral graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — or STEM fields.
Pelosi last week said the 2,900-page bill would “supercharge” investment in chips, boost U.S. manufacturing and research and advance American leadership as it confronts a rising China, according to Reuters.
This is the White House Statement of Admin Policy on @SpeakerPelosi's China bill. You'll notice it doesn't even include the word "China"...— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) February 1, 2022
This is why Republicans are united in opposition to this partisan, toothless bill. Simply put, it's not a genuine effort to counter China. pic.twitter.com/thTzUOwy0K
President Joe Biden said the House proposal and a similar one passed in the Senate last year represent “transformational” investments in the industrial base and research and development that helped power the U.S. to lead the global economy and expand opportunities for middle-class families.
“They’ll help bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, and they’re squarely focused on easing the sort of supply chain bottlenecks like semiconductors that have led to higher prices for the middle class,” he said in a statement.
Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said having just three days to digest the massive House bill makes it “impossible” in a practical way for Republicans to have any real input or offer amendments.
“It’s pretty clear that she wanted a partisan bill. She’s making it so that we really can’t participate in it. But having said that, if she had written a partisan bill that was still good, I would have supported it. This one just isn’t,” he said.
If the U.S. is serious about sending a message to China, it shouldn’t just come from Democrats, Stewart said.
“If there ever was a bipartisan issue, this should be it,” Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, said Wednesday on the House floor. He said the “do-nothing” bill fails to protect U.S. interests on multiple levels.
“This should be called the America Concedes Act, no question,” he said.
The America CONCEDES Act puts China first & America last.— Rep. Burgess Owens (@RepBurgessOwens) February 3, 2022
This legislation fails to hold China accountable for its long history of genocide and human rights abuses, fails to counter generational threats towards our national security, and fails to protect American interests. pic.twitter.com/93ZjuUigyg
The legislation, he said, isn’t a “genuine” attempt to hold China accountable for its aggression toward American security and prosperity. It also fails to hold China accountable for its “cover up” of COVID-19, human trafficking, torture, forced sterilization and “slave labor,” Owens said.
“Yes, slavery is alive and well today in communist China,” he said.
The Senate passed its own bill on competition with China — the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act — last June. It includes $52 billion to increase domestic semiconductor production and authorizes $190 billion for U.S. technology and research to compete with China.
If the House bill passes, lawmakers would have to work out differences with the Senate version. The legislation would have to go back to both chambers for approval before reaching President Joe Biden.
On Thursday during an online interview with the Washington Post, Sen. Mitt Romney talked about China as an emerging threat to the U.S. At some point, China will have a larger economy and military than the U.S., he said.
“China is going to be a very powerful nation — economically, technologically and militarily. China has also laid out a very clear game plan as to what they want to accomplish over the next, well, over the next 50 years,” he said. “And we have to read it and be convinced that they intend to do what they say they intend to do, which is to become the world leader, militarily, economically and geopolitically.”