House panel will consider bill to boost foreign investment review powers next week

House panel will consider bill to boost foreign investment review powers next week
© Greg Nash

The House Financial Services Committee will mark up a bill next week that would boost the power of a secretive federal panel that analyzes foreign investments for national security risks, according to a source familiar with the plan.

The Financial Services panel will hold a hearing to amend a measure to give the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) broader authority to block and scrutinize foreign deals involving U.S. businesses.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Robert PittengerRobert Miller PittengerChina's venture capital Trojan Horse helps it access US tech Election Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race Poll: Dem leads in red-leaning NC House district MORE (R-N.C.), has received bipartisan support and is expected to pass Congress. The White House endorsed the bill, which was also introduced in the Senate by Sens. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia Senate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit Senators push to clear backlog in testing rape kits MORE (R-Texas) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight Senate GOP breaks record on confirming Trump picks for key court Deal to fix family separations hits snag in the Senate MORE (D-Calif.).

But the measure had been held up over concerns from some lawmakers and U.S. technology companies that the bill created unnecessary and redundant restrictions.

The Senate Banking Committee will attempt to settle those concerns during their own markup on Tuesday with an amendment that would subject joint ventures between U.S. and foreign businesses to export controls outside of CFIUS review process. The current version of the bill would expand CFIUS jurisdiction to joint ventures.

The initial backlash delayed a Financial Services panel markup of the bill earlier this month, Politico reported.

CFIUS was established in 1975 to stop foreign acquisitions of U.S. businesses that could put the country at a competitive disadvantage to rivals or threaten critical intellectual property. The panel, chaired by the Treasury secretary, includes the heads of several Cabinet departments, along with leaders of intelligence agencies.

The bill would expand CFIUS’s oversight to include investments where a foreign company would not necessarily gain control of a U.S. firm, including minority stake investments and transactions near military bases or U.S. government facilities.

CFIUS has been unusually active during the Trump administration, which has taken several steps meant to hinder China’s attempts to expand its economic influence and dominate critical tech industries.

Trump in September blocked the pending sale of Lattice, an Oregon-based semiconductor and chip manufacturer, to a group of investors including Chinese state-owned entities. The president in January also blocked the sale of MoneyGram, a money transfer firm, to a subsidiary of the Chinese company Alibaba. Then, in March, Trump froze Singapore-based Broadcom’s attempt at a hostile takeover of Qualcomm.