- GOP Sen. James Risch delayed the passage of a bipartisan bill he co-sponsored that aims to counter China.
- Politico reported that Risch’s move pushed consideration of the bill back by a week.
- Risch told Politico he delayed the measure because he’s worried the final bill won’t be as bipartisan.
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Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho delayed the passage of a bill this week that he co-authored.
That’s according to Politico, which detailed the GOP’s efforts to stonewall a bipartisan bill aimed at pushing back on China’s aggressiveness on the global stage, an issue Democrats and Republicans agree poses a significant national security threat to the US.
The measure that Risch co-sponsored and is now delaying is a crucial component of the China bill that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to put out on the Senate floor, Politico reported. The Idaho senator is the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and wrote the bill with the panel’s chairman, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
In an April 8 news release touting the measure, titled the Strategic Competition Act, Risch said “it does a great service to the people of the United States and the world when we can find common ground on foreign policy issues.”
“I am pleased that Chairman Menendez has accepted a number of critical policy solutions from my own comprehensive China bill, the STRATEGIC Act, as I have accepted a great number of policy provisions that he has put forth,” the press release said. “I have long said that this needs to be addressed, and I am pleased this legislation includes a strong and actionable proposal to do just that. I look forward to a robust and inclusive amendment process for all the members of our committee when it marks up this legislation.”
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Risch told Politico that the lawmaker delayed the passage of the measure to give committee members adequate time to “read and understand the hundreds of pages of legislation, as well as draft amendments and incorporate additional ideas at the markup.”
Risch also suggested to Politico that he stonewalled consideration of his measure because the final bill that reaches the full Senate floor may not be as bipartisan.
“When they meld it together with another half-dozen parts, I don’t know what happens there. I think that’s a wild card,” Risch told the news outlet. “Our own piece, I think, if all else fails, we’ll probably be able to run our piece separately. But I don’t imagine they’d let us do that.”
The lawmaker’s decision to block the measure threw a wrench into the most significant bipartisan effort yet in a gridlocked Senate.
“There’s a lot of consensus on the China issue,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told Politico. “If we can’t agree on a bill regarding China, we should probably close this place.”
US intelligence officials have also sounded the alarm in recent months vis-a-vis China’s aggressive posturing.
Avril Haines, the director of National Intelligence, testified to Congress this week that Beijing poses a “formidable challenge” and that the US’s response is an “unparalleled priority” for the intelligence community.
“China increasingly is a near-peer competitor challenging the United States in multiple arenas, while pushing to revise global norms in ways that favor the authoritarian Chinese system,” she told lawmakers at the hearing on worldwide threats.
The intelligence community also said in its annual threat assessment that China sees competition with the US as part of an “epochal geopolitical shift” and that a key priority for the US is to “contain China’s rise.”