House Republicans have been working tirelessly this Congress to hold China accountable for their role in the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as their efforts to become the world’s top economic and technological leader – undermining the United States and our allies every step along the way. Last month, the House Republican China Task Force, created by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Republican Leader Michael McCaul (R-TX), unveiled a China Task Force report with more than 400 recommendations to stop China and ensure the U.S. continues to lead on the world stage.
This week, House Republicans doubled down on these recommendations by introducing the China Task Force Act. This blueprint includes 137 bills and other provisions that were recommended by the China Task Force. Two-thirds of these measures have bipartisan support and more than a third have already passed the House or the Senate. And of course, many of these measures were led in the House by E&C Republicans.
E&C Republican efforts to ensure U.S. leadership in emerging technologies and keep consumers safe were included in the China Task Force Act. The SELF DRIVE Act (H.R. 8350), led by Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH), would ensure America leads the world in the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles by creating a much-needed federal framework to promote innovation and provide certainty for manufacturers. Additionally, the bipartisan American COMPETE Act (H.R. 8132), led by Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Energy Subcommittee Chair Bobby Rush (D-IL), which recently passed the House unanimously, will advance national strategies to help the U.S. develop and deploy artificial intelligence, blockchain, quantum computing, and other emerging technologies. The bipartisan bill also includes several initiatives from E&C Republicans emerging tech agenda unveiled earlier this year. While not included in the China Task Force Act, the China Task Force report recommended a federal privacy framework to protect the safety of American consumers’ data. Rep. Rodgers and Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) have long called for Democrat counterparts to join them in creating a national data privacy standard.
Additionally, the China Task Force Act includes E&C Republican initiatives to close the digital divide, secure our networks, and grow our domestic communications supply chains. E&C Republicans’ broadband infrastructure agenda, unveiled earlier this year, includes 26 bills to help deploy broadband infrastructure, streamline permitting processes, and alleviate other barriers hindering communities from being connected and accessing broadband services. The Act requests funding for the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, which was recently signed into law, so that our nation’s communications networks can be more secure. This bipartisan E&C effort will help small, rural providers rip and replace Huawei and other suspect communications equipment. The USA Telecommunications Act of 2020 is another bipartisan E&C-led bill in the China Task Force Act. This bill, led by Energy and Commerce Committee Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Rep. Walden, and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), would help promote and accelerate the deployment and use of open interfaced, standards-based, and interoperable 5G networks throughout the United States.
The China Task Force Act also includes initiatives to promote nuclear innovation, secure our electric grid, and bolster our critical minerals supply chain. The Act includes three E&C Republican bills to advance U.S. leadership in carbon-free nuclear energy, including: the Strengthening American Nuclear Competitiveness Act (H.R. 7405) led by E&C Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OR), the Nuclear Licensing Efficiency Act (H.R. 7406) led by E&C Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and the Nuclear Prosperity and Security Act (H.R. 7814) led by Rep. Latta. The Act also recommends to enhance our bulk power systems, which follows President Trump’s efforts to secure our electric grid, particularly against foreign adversaries like China. Lastly, the Act includes a bill to bolster our critical minerals supply chains, which E&C Republicans pointed out in a recent hearing the risks posed by relying on China for these critical minerals and rare-earth elements. The American Critical Mineral Exploration and Innovation Act (H.R. 7061) is included in the China Task Force Act to help us secure this important energy supply chain.
Finally, the China Task Force report includes key recommendations from E&C’s Health Subcommittee that would strengthen our medical supply chain. The report calls for “securing development and production of crucial medicines, medical supplies, ingredients, tests, and vaccines.” This has been an area of focus for E&C Republicans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to be a focus as we build on the lessons learned from this public health emergency. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen first-hand what can happen when the U.S. relies too heavily on other countries, like China, for the medical equipment and supplies we need. As Walden said last October, “If a country monopolizes the production of a drug and wishes to retaliate against the United States, they could substantially increase drug prices or radically reduce supply in attempt to cause shortages, limiting access to critical medications.” In addition to the Trump administration’s efforts to strengthen our medical supply chain, E&C Republicans are leading the way by introducing commonsense measures like Rep. Richard Hudson’s (R-NC) bill to examine drug production in the United States (H.R. 8588) and Rep. Buddy Carter’s (R-GA) bill to prevent generic drug shortages by creating stockpiles of at-risk medicines through public-private partnerships (H.R. 8479).
The China Task Force Act is a serious proposal that would ensure American leadership on the world stage while holding China accountable. House Republicans are united in our efforts to stand up for the United States; House Democrats would be wise to join us.