House Creates Select Committee on China with a Bipartisan, 365-65 Vote
The House of Representatives voted yesterday to create a “Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.” The vote was 365-65 with 146 Democrats joining with all Republicans to create the new select committee. After the rancor and partisanship of the first week, this is a strong bipartisan move on a top-tier issue facing the 118th Congress.
The idea of creating a committee focused on the relationship between the U.S. and China goes back several years. The 116th Congress came close to creating one, but negotiations between Democrats and Republicans broke down. Republicans then created their own “China Task Force” that in many ways is the model for the new select committee. “China” is a big, complicated, and multi-faceted topic. Several standing committees have legislative jurisdiction over various aspects of the relationship. The Republican Task Force was populated with Members from these committees to ensure broad buy-in to what it produced. The task force made over 400 recommendations, including endorsing hundreds of bipartisan bills related to China.
The new select committee will in large part seek to replicate the approach of the China task Force – but in a more official and bipartisan way. Speaker McCarthy has named Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) as the chairman of the new panel. Chairman Gallagher said after the vote:
“It is time to push back against the Chinese Communist Party’s aggression in a bipartisan fashion, and today’s overwhelming bipartisan vote to create the select Committee on the CCP is an important first step in that direction. The next step is to populate the committee with serious members on both sides and get to work with a sense of urgency.”
The Select Committee does not have legislative authority – it cannot mark up and report legislation. But it has investigative authority and subpoena power and can conduct oversight. It can help build consensus for legislative action. Chairman Gallagher has said the initial focus of the committee’s work will be:
- “Restore supply chains and end critical economic dependencies on China,
- Strengthen the military,
- End the CCP’s theft of American personal data and intellectual property, and
- Contrast the CCP’s techno-totalitarian state with the values of the Free World.
Chairman Gallagher is a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees and was deployed to Iraq twice as a commander of intelligence teams. His military background will play into the committee’s focus on Taiwan and Chinese military threats, along with human rights and cyber issues.
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