The bill, titled the “America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act of 2022,” is designed to help the United States compete with China, but House Republicans leveled harsh criticism toward it after it was unveiled on Tuesday.
“It is sad and reckless that House Democrats are trying to argue this 3,000-page bill they cobbled together in a few days is a serious national security effort,” Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Washington Examiner. “The sloppiness in this text is further proof that Speaker Pelosi’s COMPETES Act is nothing more than a political stunt rushed out the door in order to distract from President [Joe] Biden’s failed policies and cratering poll numbers.”
Democrats put out a 20-page fact sheet touting the legislation. The legislation has some notable flaws, including being out-of-date on the Beijing Olympics, COVID-19’s origins, and China’s hostage diplomacy.
For instance, the bill asks that the International Olympic Committee “immediately rebid the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to be hosted by a country that recognizes and respects human rights.” The Olympics in Beijing begins next week.
The Democratic bill also says it should be U.S. policy “to implement a presidential and cabinet level diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing Games. The Biden administration already announced the U.S.’s diplomatic boycott of the Olympics in early December, though it never undertook serious efforts to change the venue.
On the origins of COVID-19, the bill “supports the effort announced by President Biden directing the intelligence community to conduct a 90-day review to further analyze information” about how the virus started. Biden announced that three-month effort back in May. The legislation also asked for a “report” on and “assessment” of “the most likely source or origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a short summary of an assessment in August, stating that one U.S. intelligence agency assessed with “moderate confidence” that COVID-19 most likely emerged from a Chinese government lab in Wuhan. A longer version, released in October, included a section titled, “The Case for the Laboratory-Associated Incident Hypothesis.”
In another assertion long overtaken by events, the bill calls on China to release Canadian nationals Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. The pair was held by China in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, but they were sent home in September.
In her statement unveiling the bill, Pelosi did not mention China by name. She said the legislation would “transport our nation into the future” and “advance our leadership in the world.”
Rep. Frank Lucas, the ranking Republican on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, criticized the bill, saying it “actually weakens our ability to deal with the malign influence from China.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that “massive expansions of government subsidies and federal control” such as the Pelosi bill “are not how we beat China.”
“It is another attempt to outspend the CCP with duplicative, multibillion-dollar command and control programs that will diminish our global competitiveness,” Rodgers said.
And Rep. Jim Banks, the leader of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said the Pelosi bill “is weak and fails to properly confront the China threat, and it throws billions at unrelated issues that have nothing to do with our national security.”
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