(CNSNews.com) – The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to establish a bipartisan select committee focused on the multiple challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), almost three years after the then-Democratic majority withdrew from an earlier initiative, leaving Republicans to go it alone.
The resolution to set up the “Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party” passed in a 365-65 vote.
One hundred and forty-six Democrats joined 219 Republicans in supporting the measure. All 65 “no” votes came from Democrats, most of them members of the Progressive Caucus, including its chairperson, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).
Other notable “no” votes came from several senior Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including ranking member Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.).
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) named Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) as chairman of the committee, which will have seven Republicans and five Democrats (the resolution allows for a maximum of 16 members, seven from the minority.)
“The greatest threat to the United States is the Chinese Communist Party,” said Gallagher in a statement after being named as chair. “The CCP continues to commit genocide, obscure the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, steal hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American intellectual property, and threaten Taiwan.”
In comments earlier on the House floor both McCarthy and Gallagher stressed the need for a bipartisan approach.
“There is bipartisan consensus that the era of trusting communist China is over,” McCarthy said. “This will be a bipartisan committee that it’s my hope, my desire, my wish that we speak with one voice.”
“We want the very best ideas. It doesn’t matter where they come from,” he said. “And at the end of the day, we won’t need a minority and majority report. We’ll just need one philosophy, with one principle, and America will be stronger for the future to come.”
Gallagher said during the debate that the committee would “expose the CCP’s coordinated, whole-of-society strategy to undermine American leadership and American sovereignty, while working on a bipartisan basis, and with the committees of jurisdiction, to identify long-overdue, commonsense approaches to counter CCP aggression.”
“And I stress ‘working on a bipartisan basis’ because that’s the only way we’re going to be successful over the long term,” he said.
“The CCP doesn’t pose a danger to just Republicans or Democrats, it’s a threat to all Americans,” Gallagher said. “We need to have a united front here in Congress to counter the Chinese Communist Party.”
The last effort in the House to form a “united front” against the CCP hit a wall when Democrats in February 2020 abruptly withdrew from an initiative after months of discussion. Weeks later the GOP moved ahead with the launch of its own task force, chaired by then Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaul (R-Texas).
When the Republican China Task Force was launched, McCarthy said the Democrats had “bailed without explanation.” It came, however, at a time when questions surrounding China’s culpability in and handling of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan that sparked the global COVID-19 pandemic had become a heated partisan affair.
Gallagher is hawkish on the CCP and deeply critical of Beijing’s handling of the outbreak.
The resolution creating the select committee says it will have the authority “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.”
‘Drawing a distinction between the party and the Chinese people’
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and one of the 65 Democrats to vote “no,” said the select committee “could” productively address legitimate concerns about the actions of the Chinese government.
“However, I rise to remind all members that this committee should not be used as an open invitation to traffic in blatant xenophobic, anti-China rhetoric we know results in physical violence against Asian Americans,” she said.
In his comments earlier, Gallagher stressed the need for the committee “at every step along the way” to ensure that “we are drawing a distinction between the party and the Chinese people, with whom we have no quarrel and who are often the primary victims of CCP aggression and repression.”
McCaul, who now chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.
“The select committee will continue the critical work we began in the House China Task Force and shows that the Republican House is laser-focused on the CCP as an existential threat to our nation,” he said.
“The select committee is also an opportunity for House Democrats to finally join bipartisan efforts to counter the CCP, which they declined to do on the China Task Force,” McCaul added.
The 65 Democrats who voted against the resolution setting up a CCP select committee were: Reps. Becca Balint, Nanette Barragán, Suzanne Bonamici, Jamaal Bowman, Shontel Brown, Cori Bush, Troy Carter, Greg Casar, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Judy Chu, Yvette Clarke, Gerald Connolly, Jasmine Crockett, Danny Davis, Diana DeGette, Mark DeSaulnier, Veronica Escobar, Dwight Evans, Lois Frankel, Maxwell Frost, Jesus García, Robert Garcia, Dan Goldman, Jimmy Gomez, Jared Huffman, Glenn Ivey, Jonathan Jackson, Sheila Jackson Lee, Pramila Jayapal, Hank Johnson, Sydney Kamlager-Dove, Barbara Lee, Summer Lee, Ted Lieu, Zoe Lofgren, Doris Matsui, Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Kevin Mullin, Jerrold Nadler, Richard Neal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Frank Pallone, Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, Mike Quigley, Delia Ramirez, Deborah Ross, Linda Sánchez, John Sarbanes, Jan Schakowsky, Bobby Scott, Melanie Stansbury, Mark Takano, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Jill Tokuda, Paul Tonko, Lauren Underwood, Juan Vargas, Nydia Velázquez, Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Nikema Williams.