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Thursday, December 1st, 2022

Bipartisan senators urge Biden to take executive action to create additional outbound investment screen

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While promoting their National Critical Capabilities Defense Act (S. 1854 and H.R. 6323), a bipartisan group of U.S. senators wrote to President Joe Biden this week, urging him to take an immediate, interim executive action on outbound investments to foreign adversaries.

This action, they believe, would help protect national security and the supply chains on which the country relies while Congress considers revised legislation to improve the competitive foundations of the U.S. participation in the global economy. Essentially buying time, the lawmakers – including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) – ideally want an outbound investment screen complete with oversight from committees and thorough insight from stakeholders.

“When we cede our manufacturing power and technological know-how to foreign adversaries, we are hurting our economy, our global competitiveness, American workers, industry, and national security. Government action on this front is long overdue to address the scope and magnitude of these serious risks we face as a country,” wrote the eight senators.

The legislators do not want additional scrutiny of allied trades – merely those of nations deemed to be foreign adversaries.

“We have seen the cost of relying on communist countries, like China, for critical supplies,” U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) said of the bill last year. “Our amendment, the National Critical Capabilities Defense Act, will require companies to disclose proposed offshoring of critical supply chains and capabilities to foreign adversaries, like China and Russia. Our proposal will ensure the PPE shortages we saw at the start of the pandemic don’t happen again and that we are not reliant on foreign adversaries for items that are critical to our national security.”

A year later, the senators were echoing those sentiments to Biden, particularly regarding lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The PRC, for example, has an egregious track record of promoting intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer,” the senators wrote in their recent letter. “While this unsettling trend is not new, we know action is needed to address vulnerabilities for many sectors of our economy so that we can advance U.S. national and economic security interests.”

Participating in this request, in addition to Casey, Cornyn, Pelosi, and Schumer, were U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Victoria Spartz (R-IN).

“As deliberations continue in Congress, we urge your Administration to move forward with executive action—which can then be bolstered by statutory provisions—to safeguard our national security and supply chain resiliency on outbound investments to foreign adversaries,” they wrote. “This is how the oversight of inbound foreign investment was initially established—Executive Order.”