On January 3, the 118th Congress was inaugurated. As a result of the 2022 midterm elections, party control in the House of Representatives shifted from Democratic control to Republican control. Shortly after taking power, Republican leadership in the House introduced and passed H. Res. 11, which formed the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.1 Though the Committee cannot legislate itself, it can provide legislative recommendations on US-China economic competition issues, and indicates that Congress has made the issue a priority.
Shortly after the 2022 election, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and future Chairman of the Select Committee Mike Gallagher (R-WI) announced their intent to form the Select Committee and previewed its priorities in a December 8, 2022, op-ed.2 The op-ed indicated that the Select Committee would focus on the following issues:
- Restoring supply chains and ending “critical economic dependencies on China”
- Preventing state and local pension funds from investing in entities involved in “communist genocide and military modernization”
- Supporting Taiwan
- Identifying viable alternatives to the Belt and Road Initiative
- Publicizing “ongoing CCP interference and influence campaigns”
- Identifying “attempts at infiltrating” US academic institutions
- Exposing operations of the “CCP’s security services” in the US, particularly their espionage efforts3
The Resolution establishing the Select Committee outlines similar values, saying the Select Committee’s jurisdiction is “the status of the Chinese Communist Party’s economic, technological, and security progress and its competition with the United States.”4
The Resolution establishing the Select Committee also discusses what the Select Committee can and cannot do as part of its duties. The Select Committee may not legislate, and may not take legislative action on any bill or resolution.5 However, the Select Committee may investigate and submit policy recommendations on issues within its jurisdiction, and it may conduct public hearings on issues within its jurisdiction.6 The Select Committee also has the authority to hire a staff to assist in this process,7 and Chairman Gallagher has already named Dave Hanke as Staff Director, Charles Morrison as Policy Director, Caroline Vik as Communications Director, and Julissa Milligan Walsh as General Counsel.8 These hires bring significant Capitol Hill, government, and foreign policy experience to the Committee.
Finally, Republican and Democratic leaders have announced the members selected to serve on this bipartisan Select Committee. 12 Republicans will join Chairman Gallagher on the Committee,9 and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) will serve as Ranking Member of the Select Committee, along with 10 other Democrats.10 The Select Committee is widely expected to work in a bipartisan manner; the Resolution establishing the Committee passed by an overwhelming 365-65 margin,11 Ranking Member Krishnamoorthi has released a statement expressing interest in working constructively with Chairman Gallagher; indeed, the two have previously introduced legislation to ban TikTok from operating in the United States, and have reintroduced the legislation in the current Congress.12 In addition, Democratic member Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) said, “this is a serious committee, and I believe it,” after her appointment to the Select Committee.13
The speed at which the new leadership passed the establishment Resolution for the Select Committee and statements of bipartisan support from Democratic members indicate that legislation related to economic competition between the US and China will be front of mind in the coming Congress. Indeed, other Committees have recently indicated their focus on this issue. For example, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) sent a letter to the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) at the US Department of Commerce indicating that the Committee would soon initiate a 90-day review of BIS’s export licensing policies related to China. In addition, the House Financial Services Committee’s very first hearing of the new Congress focused on “Combatting the Economic Threat from China.”14 These actions, along with the creation of the Select Committee, suggest that US-China economic competition will be a priority in future legislation.