The Senate Armed Services Committee overwhelmingly approved a massive piece of legislation on Wednesday that aims to confront China. The bill, known as the Strategic Competition Act, passed the committee in a vote of 20 to 1, showing strong bipartisan support for anti-China policies packed into the legislation.
The Strategic Competition Act seeks to confront China by prioritizing military spending, boosting arms sales to countries in the Indo-Pacific, sanctions against Chinese officials, allocating funds “to promote democracy” in Hong Kong, and other means.
The original draft of the bill was 281-pages, but the committee added dozens of amendments before voting. One of the amendments would force US officials to boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The bill will now be voted on in the Senate.
“With this overwhelming bipartisan vote, the Strategic Competition Act becomes the first of what we hope will be a cascade of legislative activity for our nation to finally meet the China challenge across every dimension of power, political, diplomatic, economic, innovation, military, and even cultural,” said committee chairman Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in a statement on the bill. “There should be little doubt that China and the Communist Party under Xi Jinping’s brand of hyper-nationalism is unlike any challenge America has ever faced,” he added.
Also on Wednesday, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers cited the need to compete with Beijing when introducing a $100 billion technology spending bill called the Endless Frontier Act. The legislation would expand the National Science Foundation, giving the government agency a new directorate that will be provided with the $100 billion over the next five years.
Competition with China is now the go-to for US officials to justify exorbitant amounts of spending. President Biden has said his massive $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan was needed to compete with Beijing. After Biden requested $753 billion for military spending in 2022, the Pentagon released a statement citing China as the top “threat” and the reason it needs the $715 billion it will be allocated out of the budget.