House Republicans and Democrats on Tuesday joined forces and voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new committee to examine U.S. strategic competition with China, after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy declared on the House floor that neither Republicans nor Democrats trust China anymore.
“We spent decades passing policies that welcomed China into the global system,” McCarthy said. “In return, China has exported oppression, aggression and anti-Americanism. Today, the power of its military and economy are growing at the expense of freedom and democracy worldwide.”
“It didn’t start under this administration, but the current administration has clearly made it worse,” McCarthy said. “Its policies have weakened our economy and made us more vulnerable to the threat of the CCP.”
“There is bipartisan consensus that the era of trusting communist China is over,” McCarthy concluded.
While Democrats have already made it clear they are prepared to oppose most GOP proposals in the new Congress, several said on the floor that they support the idea and would vote for the Select Committee on China Competition and only a handful spoke in opposition to the idea.
The House voted 365-65 in favor of creating the committee, which was supported by more than two-thirds of the House Democratic caucus.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, said he was worried about some aspects of the committee, including whether it would only focus on military competition with China. He and other Democrats also stressed that the committee should not fuel anti-Asian hate.
“President Trump repeatedly mislabeled COVID with racist language,” McGovern said. “Such rhetoric coincided with spikes in hate-based acts of violence and discrimination against people of Chinese or Asian origin across our country. This language has no place on this committee or anywhere in Congress.”
“While I do have concerns here, after reading the resolution itself, I will be voting ‘yes,’” McGovern said. “The Democratic Party has led the way in implementing efforts to monitor China’s compliance with international human rights and rule of law standards, and we will continue to do so here.”
McCarthy assured Democrats that the committee would not devolve into partisan posturing, and said he wants Republicans and Democrats to build a strategy together to help America face a rising China.
“Do not be concerned. Those are my same concerns as well and they will not take place,” McCarthy said in response to McGovern.
“You have my word and my commitment,” McCarthy added. “This is not a partisan committee. This will be a bipartisan committee that is mindful of my desire, my wish that we speak with one voice, that we focus on the challenges that we have.”
“The threat is too great for us to bicker with ourselves,” he said.
The mission of the committee, which was proposed by McCarthy, is to “investigate and submit policy recommendations on the status of the Chinese Communist Party’s economic, technological, and security progress and its competition with the United States.” It is being established after the growing realization in the U.S. that China is America’s most immediate economic competitor and military threat.
In his acceptance speech early Saturday morning, McCarthy said the committee would investigate “how to bring back hundreds of thousands of jobs that went to China and win the economic competition.”