Top GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force over coronavirus probe

Top GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force over coronavirus probe
© Greg Nash

Top Republicans in the House are inviting members of the Blue Dog Coalition to meet with the GOP’s China task force after the moderate Democrat group’s recent call for a bipartisan investigation into Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter sent to members of the group by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthy4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch Congress under pressure to provide billions for school openings Supreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress MORE, Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph Scalise4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch Cheney clashes with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks MORE (R-La.) and Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm GOP lawmakers raise questions about WHO's coronavirus timeline China must be held accountable for its egregious actions against Hong Kong MORE (Texas), the chairman of the Republican China task force, the GOP lawmakers said they are “encouraged to hear the Blue Dog Coalition shares our concerns about the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)” and are open to their “insight and recommendations as we work to tackle this complex and cross-jurisdictional issue.”

House Republicans launched a China task force charged with conducting probes into a host of issues that have sparked tensions with the U.S., including the country’s handling of the pandemic, early last month. The initiative was initially intended to be a bipartisan venture.

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Democrats ultimately opted out of participating in the panel, but Republicans decided to move forward with the committee.

Members of the Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to the top two House leaders in both parties on Wednesday calling for a bipartisan task force and investigations to be launched into the CCP, arguing that having just one party participate in the process “politicizes a nonpartisan issue” and “undermines its effectiveness.”

McCarthy, McCaul and Scalise said the State Department’s announcement that Hong Kong would no longer be granted special status underscores the need for parties to work together on China policy.

The GOP lawmakers praised the Blue Dogs for noting that there are two other two China-related commissions — the Congressional-Executive Committee on China and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission — that are tasked with analyzing and making policy recommendations to address several areas that have caused strain between the U.S. and China, but said the GOP’s China task force has the ability to “examine the whole range of threats and challenges posed by the CCP” and they welcome Democrats participation.

“We are glad your letter mentioned the other two China-related commissions because it gets at why this multi-jurisdictional Member-level China Task Force is needed. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission does not include Members of Congress. This means any recommendations it makes must still be reviewed and approved by Members,” they wrote. 

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The GOP lawmakers said they are “frustrated that Democrat Leaders backed out of the task force” adding that it happened after 13 months of negotiations, but “felt we could no longer ignore the multi-jurisdictional threat that the Chinese Communist Party” after seeing the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“In that vein, we would like to extend an invitation to the Blue Dog Coalition to meet with the China Task Force for an informal exchange of ideas. As your letter noted, there is far more that unites us than divides us on this issue and we would welcome your membership’s input as we begin our efforts,” they continued.

“This would allow us to discuss further your endorsement of H.R. 6429, the National Commission on COVID-19 Act, and your request that it be included in our final report, as well as ‘a federal inquiry into how the CCP might seek to exploit the epidemic to advance its foreign policy objectives to the detriment of the United States and our allies,’” they wrote.

The lawmakers said they agree with the Blue Dog Coalition's assessment that they are “strongest internationally when we are united domestically” and “forward to working with your members on this greatest challenge of our generation.”

“Addressing the long-term national security and economic threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue - it’s an American issue. That’s why the China Task Force was intended to be bipartisan,” McCaul said in a statement.

“I hope Democrats will accept this open invitation to work together and join us on this important mission.”

Blue Dog Coalition Letter by Geoffrey Rowland on Scribd