On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed America COMPETES Act with a vote of 222-210. The bill is supposed to be about competing with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) via science and technology, but has come under fire for falling short of that aim.
The Republican Study Committee (RSC) and its chairman, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), have termed the bill the America CONCEDES Act. While there is bipartisan agreement on doing something to counter a threat from the CCP, Republican members warn that the bill is more like the Green New Deal.
A memo from Banks highlights concerns such as:
Its cost of $250 million
Urging the United States to abide by the Paris Climate Agreement
Directing the United States and China to work together on “parallel initiatives,” which the memo warns “Provides more opportunities for China to steal our intellectual property”
Directing the Armed Forces to focus on climate change
Allowing China to be eligible for financial assistance from the World Bank Group and Asian Development Bank if they use the funds for “fighting climate change”
Failing to hold China accountable for the pandemic
Encouraging Critical Race Theory (CRT) by creating a Chief Diversity Officer at the National Science Foundation and directing the NSF to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion in the technology sector
Failing to ban federal funding for colleges and universities that host Confucius Institutes
When it comes to costs, there are even more specific concerns about where money is going. A significant amount of funds going to supposedly fight climate change, such as $8 billion towards the U.N. Green Climate Fund and $2 million a year in foreign aid for such a purpose. There is also $6 million to the NOAA to create a National Coral Reef Management Fellowship.
Banks’ memo points out that there is $6 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to create a National Coral Reef Management Fellowship. In fact, “coral reefs” is mentioned more than “China.”
A statement from Rep. Banks on Friday in part referenced counter legislation. “If Democrats were serious about confronting China, they’d bring my bill the Countering Communist China Act to the floor for a vote. My bill would hold China accountable for their role in the COVID-19 pandemic, bolster our defense capabilities in the Indo-Pacific, stop the theft of our intellectual property and crack down on malign Chinese Communist influence right here at home,” he said.
The Countering Communist China Act is referenced on the RSC website as part of an issue campaign to “Counter CCP.” The RSC puts forth alternate options in response to proposals from the Democrats in preparation for when Republicans take control of the House.
An amendment from Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) was accepted that calls for the hiring of 10 new employees at Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to enforce sanctions, as well as an amendment from Rep. Banks to determine which Chinese companies should be sanctioned under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which was signed by President Joe Biden last December.
It’s not merely members currently in office who have voiced concerns when it comes to legislation that fails to adequately address concerns with China and the need to properly do so. Many Republican candidates running for Congress provided statements to Townhall with their thoughts.
Gina Ciarcia, a mother, teacher, and wife of a Combat Veteran who is running against Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), said Spanberger and House Democrats “politicize foreign policy” when they “neglect fundamental American values and prop up the Chinese Communist Party.” Ciarcia also noted that the “fundamental issue here is that, at the most basic level, the Chinese government has no respect for the individual, human rights, and the sanctity of human life. America cannot cede global leadership to this brutal and authoritarian regime, and that’s precisely what this bill does.”
Alexis Martinez Johnson, an engineer who is running against Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM), similarly called out Fernandez “and radical progressives [who] have once again shown they aren’t willing to stand up to China. They’re more willing to make concessions to the Chinese Communist Party and their multiple flagrant human rights abuses.” She criticized “the far Left is actively funding the Chinese Communists. Full stop,” as well as for “China has shown they have no regard for human rights.”
“We must lead from a position of strength, not a place of weakness, and the regressive left’s America CONCEDES Act should not give a dime to the Chinese Communist Party,” Johnson added with original emphasis.
“While our nation struggles to recover from the economic ruin caused by years of COVID lockdowns, the House Democrats voted to subsidize the People’s Republic of China through provisions in the America COMPETES Act. When will they realize our small businesses matter; that our household tax dollars matter? As a 30-year Marine veteran I find the continued funding of the PRC, by House Democratic leaders, treacherous to the health of our nation and our Pacific economic allies,” said Colonel Mitchell Swan, a retired Marine who is running to fill Rep. Jody Hice’s seat, a fellow Republican in Georgia’s 10th district.
The U.S. Senate passed the bill last June by a vote of 68-32, when it was also known as the Endless Frontier Act and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. The Wall Street on Friday warned that partisan divisions and differences between the House and Senate bills could affect a compromise.