House

Moderate House Democrats introduce bill aimed at stopping China from exploiting coronavirus pandemic

A group of moderate House Democrats in the Blue Dog Coalition introduced legislation on Thursday that would require the federal government to look into and combat any efforts made by China to exploit the coronavirus pandemic.

The Preventing China from Exploiting COVID-19 Act - led by Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Kendra Horn (D-Okla.) and Max Rose (D-N.Y.) - calls for the director of national intelligence (DNI) to work with the heads of the Department of Defense, State Department and Department of Homeland Security to produce an assessment on potential ways China has and could undermine the United States' and its allies' interests during the pandemic.

Under the legislation, the assessment would have to be provided to Congress within 90 days of the bill's enactment and an unclassified version would be released on the DNI's website.

Members on both sides of the aisle have voiced concerns about China's initial handling of COVID-19, condemning Beijing for failing to provide information lawmakers feel could have helped stop the spread of the coronavirus and spreading disinformation about its origins.

"Bipartisan concerns in Congress about Chinese government policies have only increased once COVID-19 emerged in China and spread to virtually every country in the world. Since the start of this pandemic, we have witnessed a pattern of alarming behavior from the Chinese government in a range of areas," Murphy, the co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition, said in a statement.

"This bill would provide U.S. policymakers with an intelligence community assessment of the different ways the Chinese government may be seeking to exploit the pandemic," Murphy added. "Armed with this information, we can hold the Chinese government accountable and protect American interests."

Rose noted China's history of adversarial actions against the United States, arguing the legislation is a step in the right direction in protecting national security interests.

"From the opioid epidemic, to trade, to our intellectual property, China has a long history of trying to rip off America. Why should we think the coronavirus pandemic would be any different?" Rose asked in a statement.

"It's not a question of if, but how China is going to use this crisis to its advantage-and we need to be working to prevent that."

The Blue Dogs have been vocal in their calls for parties to work together on looking into China's response to the pandemic, writing a letter to House leaders in May calling for a bipartisan investigation into the matter.

House Republicans launched a China task force earlier this year, an effort that was initially slated to be bipartisan. Top Democrats ultimately opted out of moving forward with the task force but have asserted they are committed to holding China accountable.

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