Democrats on House panel buck Republican input on omnibus China bill

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House Foreign Affairs Committee Democrats largely dismissed Republican input Thursday before passing the committee’s comprehensive bill aimed at countering China.

The Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement (EAGLE) Act, introduced by Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, New York Democrat and the panel chairman, comes as both the Biden administration and Congress begin to dial up the U.S. stance in opposition to China’s growing influence.

Republicans took issue with the bill’s climate-related provisions, which they said were largely about political messaging and with what they characterized as insufficient measures on control of technology exports.

The measure would provide billions for the United Nations Green Climate Fund, a measure Republicans called a “slush fund” for that body.

“The result is a weak bill that offers few new ideas, does little to actually hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its malign actions, and prioritizes green energy policies over confronting the national security risk they pose,” said Rep. Michael T. McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the committee.

The bill passed on a 26-20 party-line vote.

The legislation serves as a key piece of the House’s answer to the United States Innovation and Competition Act which passed the Senate 68-32 in June.

“The EAGLE Act that passed out of committee today is comprehensive legislation which addresses the challenges posed by China, not only to the United States but to the international rules-based system and global economy,” Mr. Meeks said.

“As its title states, this bill ensures that America will once again lead on the world stage, strengthening our alliances, and expanding our diplomatic and economic footprint across the world to out-compete China,” he said.

The bill which aims to “revitalize and reassert United States leadership, investment, and engagement in the Indo-Pacific region and globally,” includes provisions that call for banning U.S. import of any goods produced by Uyghur forced labor, and enhancing relationships with key partners in the region to shore up critical technology supply chains.

But after marathon debates and a two-day markup this week in which the committee parsed a bulging list of amendments, committee Republicans came away disappointed with the final legislation, claiming the bill missed an opportunity to apply pressure on Beijing.

“A serious approach to the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party must be coordinated with Republicans and Democrats,” said Rep. Michael T. McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the committee. “Unfortunately, House Democrats chose to pass a bill on party lines that was crafted solely by Democrats and included very little Republican input.”

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