Select Committee on China Competition Gets Up and Running, Prepares for Primetime Hearing Tuesday Night

Congress returns this week, but the House is only in session Monday-Wednesday.  House Democrats have their annual issues retreat in Baltimore Maryland.  President Biden will attend the retreat on Wednesday.

The House will consider two rule bills.  First, H. J. Res 30, which provides for disapproval of the Biden Department of Labor (DOL) final rule allowing retirement plan fiduciaries (i.e., retirement plan investment managers) to consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors when making investment decisions and exercising shareholder rights.  H. J. Res 30 is likely to be considered in the Senate under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) procedures, which require only a simple majority.  While there is a good chance it passes in both the House and Senate, neither body will have the votes to override and expected presidential veto.  H.R. 347, The REIN Act requires the Administration to submit inflationary impact estimates for any major executive order that has an annual gross budgetary effect of at least $1 billion.

The Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party finally gets up and running. On Tuesday, February 28th the committee will hold an organization meeting and then present a primetime hearing at 7:00 pm in the historic Cannon Caucus room.  Chairman Gallagher’s goal in the opening months of the committee’s work is to raise the awareness of the American people about the national security threat posed by the Chinese Communist party.  To that end, the title of the first hearing is: “The Chinese Communist Party’s Threat to America”, which is not intended to be nuanced or subtle. The witnesses are former Trump National Security Advisor, retired Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster; former Deputy National Security Advisor and China expert, Matthew Pottinger; former secretary to one of China’s leading dissidents, Tong Yi; and Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul.

In preparation for the hearing, Chairman Gallagher travelled to Taiwan and published an Op-ed in The Wall Street Journal upon his return, where he laid out the challenges in stark terms:

“We must also do a better job of countering the Communist Party’s malign influence operations in Taiwan, the U.S., and around the world. That means speaking the truth about the brutal, genocidal regime in Beijing … Repression is spreading outward all around the periphery of China—Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong. The darkness presses beyond China’s borders, slithering into multinational institutions, over the internet, throughout the global financial system. Against the darkness stands a candle that burns freely, fiercely, improbably in opposition: Taiwan.”

The report over the weekend that the Energy Department has concluded that the COVID 19 virus most likely resulted from a leak at the Wuhan lab will further heighten tension and scrutiny in Congress over all issues related to China.  House Republicans have pursued the lab leak theory for several years and were extremely frustrated that House Democrats, while in the majority, were unwilling to investigate the origins of COVID.  The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mike McCaul issued a statement about the Energy Department’s conclusion:

“A year and a half ago, after conducting an extensive investigation, I released a report concluding the preponderance of the evidence proved the coronavirus was leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology because of dangerously unsafe conditions at the lab, and that the release turned into the global COVID-19 pandemic because the Chinese Communist Party focused on covering up their mistake instead of warning the world. While I wish it had happened sooner, I’m pleased the Department of Energy has finally reached the same conclusion that I had already come to … It is critical the administration also begin to work immediately with our partners and allies around the world to both hold the CCP accountable and to put in place updated international regulations to ensure something like this cannot happen again.”

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