Through introduction of the Science and Technology Agreement Enhanced Congressional Notification Act (H.R. 5245) last week, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) proposed new risk assessments, human rights considerations and enforced monitoring of any scientific and technological partnership agreements between the United States and China.
Under the bill, the Secretary of State would have to report to Congress on any new agreement and wait for at least 30 days after submission, but before moving forward. Barr posited that it would create a new, rigorous regimen of transparency and accountability in the countries’ relationship.
“America’s collaborations, especially with nations like the PRC, should prioritize our national security, human rights, and technological leadership,” Barr said. “This legislation ensures that Congress has a significant say in any science and technology agreements with the Chinese Communist Party. It’s about safeguarding American innovation and assessing risks diligently. With this bill, we aim to establish a clear framework for transparent and responsible international collaborations which will safeguard American interests, values, and global leadership.”
The bill would amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to achieve this, essentially inserting more Congressional control of a department of the executive branch. It’s also a direct response to a common refrain from modern Congressional corners, as exemplified by a statement from U.S. Rep. Michael Gallagher (R-WI), who accused the Chinese Communist Party of abusing the American scientific community’s openness to steal research and coopt it for malign destructive purposes.
Barr’s co-sponsors on the bill included U.S. Reps. Neal Dunn (R-FL) and Robert Wittman (R-VA).
“Bilateral collaborations are vital for scientific progress, but not at the cost of our national security and intellectual property,” Dunn said. “I have strong concerns with the U.S. government entering into any technology sharing compacts with the CCP. It is critical to establish a framework for transparent and responsible collaborations that prioritize American interests and values and promote U.S. competitiveness with the CCP.”
The bill was referred to the House Foreign Affairs committee.