Despite their obvious differences on many issues, Senate leaders from both parties are concerned that the Chinese are suddenly purchasing U.S. companies and property, which could negatively impact the U.S. economy and threaten national security.
On Monday, the Washington Examiner is reporting that senators from both sides of the political aisle will focus on the same problem.
They are “working on separate tracks to produce legislation that would reform the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a panel made up of anonymous board members from a variety of government agencies who operate under the Treasury Secretary to approve or disapprove the sale of U.S. companies and property to foreigners.” This is an “obscure and secretive agency.”
It’s been a decade since the CFIUS was revisited by lawmakers; now they are scrambling to strengthen the committee’s power after noticing that in just the past year, Chinese investments in the country went from less than $20 billion to more than $50 billion. This information came from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which regularly keeps an eye on China’s global investments.
Derek Scissors, an AEI scholar who focuses on the Chinese and Indian economies and U.S. economic relations with Asia, told reporters, “When you get a number like that, you get even members of Congress to pay attention.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, has been drafting legislation that would require CFIUS to create a top-secret list of “countries of concern,” countries which pose a potential military threat to U.S. national security interests, and closely scrutinize any sales of U.S. property to those countries.
Cornyn has said that CFIUS must be overhauled in the wake of increasing Chinese investments, which include tech companies. He noted that this could cause us to lose confidential technology and military information.
On the other hand, New York Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer is writing a bill that could force CFIUS to take a hard line on deals that hurt our economy because of his belief that the United States is getting ripped off when making economic deals with the Chinese. He’s also interested in forcing China to stop restricting the U.S. from accessing the Chinese market.
“China has been eating our lunch and stealing our jobs for far too long,” Schumer told the Washington Examiner. “It’s past due for the U.S. government to use all tools at its disposal to protect the U.S. economy and American jobs, and that includes expanding the authority of CFIUS to review, investigate, and block deals where the U.S. gets the short end of the stick.”
President Trump will make the decision regarding what the reforms look like, but lawmakers are certain that the legislation will pass. Scissors noted that the new law has the potential to create American jobs. “It’s not like imports from China, which [President Trump] thinks is hurting jobs,” he said.
H/T: Washington Examiner
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