The Big Ideas

'A new era of bipartisanship on China in Congress?
'A new era of bipartisanship on China in Congress?
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Bipartisan work on China: Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Democrat, worked with the committee's senior Republican member Sen. Jim Risch to put forward the Strategic Competition Act this month.

April 23, 2021
BIG IDEA | ‘The Strategic Competition Act codifies a bipartisan U.S. position on a range of China-related issues and telegraphs to U.S. allies the federal government is unified.’

On April 21, the 'Strategic Competition Act of 2021' aimed at helping the U.S. win in the competition with China was 'passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 21-1 and now heads to the Senate floor.'

You have seen here many times the suggestion that to understand the trajectory of U.S. policy toward China you have to watch Congress, not just the Executive Branch.

But as Scott Kennedy of the Center for Strategic & Studies wrote in ‘Thunder Out of Congress on China’ in September 2020: ‘At least 366 bills with China-related content have been introduced since the beginning of the 116th Congress in January 2019. Of the 366 bills introduced,'

  • '19 were passed only by the House of Representatives,'
  • '7 made it through only the Senate, and just'
  • '12 passed both houses and were signed into law by the President.’

Not a great record and one that reflects the parties’ inability to come together on how to deal with China.

  • Since then, there has been a change in Congress, one that augurs its even greater influence on U.S. China policy.
  • And the best example of that so far is the 'Strategic Competition Act.'

Here’s AXIO’s Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian report:

‘The Jan. 6 insurrection was a "shock to the system," propelling members of Congress toward the goal of shoring up America's ability to compete with China, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told Axios during an interview Thursday.’

‘Why it matters: Competition between China's authoritarian model and the West's liberal democratic one is likely to define the 21st century.’

  • ‘A bipartisan response would help the U.S. present a united front.’

‘Driving the news: Three major bipartisan bills targeting China's influence and strengthening America's response are now working their way through Congress and expected to pass.’

  • ‘The Strategic Competition Act would allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to a raft of new initiatives aimed at helping the U.S. succeed in long-term ideological, military, economic and technological competition with China. It was passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 21-1 on Wednesday, April 21, and now heads to the Senate floor.’
  • ‘The Endless Frontier Act calls for $100 billion in funding for technology research to boost U.S. innovation, as China aims to become the world leader in emerging technologies.’
  • ‘Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have reintroduced a bill to study the United States’ "overreliance on foreign countries and the impact of foreign direct investment on the U.S. pharmaceutical industry and DNA analysis industries" — with a special eye on China.’

‘What to watch: The Strategic Competition Act codifies a bipartisan U.S. position on a range of China-related issues and telegraphs to U.S. allies the federal government is unified.’

  • ‘Lawmakers agree that the two bills are only a start and that more action will be needed.’