McConnell: Bipartisan Bill “Cannot Be the Senate’s Final Word on Our Competition With China”
‘We’re talking about making America more competitive with its biggest and fastest-growing rival. If any issue demands thorough, exhaustive debate, it’s this one.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding China:
“Today the Senate will wrap up consideration of a broad, bipartisan effort to update our approach to competition with China.
“This bill has accelerated an important conversation on a topic we all know deserves our full attention. From critical supply chains to intellectual property to counterespionage, it touches on key issues that will help determine our strategic footing for decades.
“That’s why an overwhelming majority of us, myself included, voted to proceed to the measure here on the floor
“Not because this bill was already perfect. In fact, as the Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee noted when it was reported out, this legislation was ‘not ready for prime time.’
“Rather, we took it up precisely because it deserved robust debate and amendment.
“So I was glad that several of our colleagues were allowed to offer substantial revisions here on the floor. In particular, I’m glad the Democratic Leader thought better of blocking Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Crapo from including their bipartisan provision on combating illicit trade practices.
“But I was disappointed that he proceeded with an effort to end this important debate without allowing the Senate to consider a number of other outstanding Republican amendments.
“There’s no practical reason our consideration of this important issue should have to compete for sufficient space on Senate Democrats’ dance card.
“We’re talking about making America more competitive with its biggest and fastest-growing rival. If any issue demands thorough, exhaustive debate, it’s this one.
“Unfortunately, the final bill we’ll be voting on today will remain incomplete.
“It includes several smart, targeted measures, but leaves many more on the table. And so it will advance as an imperfect approach to an extremely consequential challenge.
“One thing this legislation did demonstrate extremely well, however, was that the rules of the Senate don’t stand in the way of bipartisan legislating.
“Needless to say, final passage of this legislation cannot be the Senate’s final word on our competition with China. It certainly won’t be mine.
“As I’ve warned repeatedly, soft power is only as strong as the hard power underpinning it.
“The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t hesitate in investing the proceeds of its predatory trade practices and influence campaigns directly into modernizing its hard power arsenal.
“Over the past two decades, defense spending in Beijing has increased astronomically.
“Meanwhile, the Biden Administration’s proposal for defense spending puts forward such a meager year-on-year increase, it fails to keep pace with inflation – let alone with our rivals.
“The White House request would degrade our ability to project power quickly in the Western Pacific.
“It would cannibalize Pacific Deterrence Initiative funds intended to build infrastructure and enhance interoperability with our partners in the region just to cover shortfalls elsewhere in the budget. And it would cut procurement of critical munitions that are already in short supply.
“The Administration is playing a dangerous shell game. And the potential consequences aren’t lost on either side of the Pacific.
“The perception that the United States might be any less than fully committed to prevailing in great power competition has left China emboldened and our friends in the region worried.
“Here at home, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs sounded the alarm, warning that great power peace was, quote, ‘fraying at the edge.’
“Preserving that peace will require more than the action we’ll take today.
“It will require this Administration to get serious about funding our national defense.
“It will require major investment in the sorts of cutting-edge capabilities that deter those who intend harm on America and our allies.
“So in the coming weeks, we’ll see whether Democrats’ talk about rebuilding alliances has any substance to it.
“In the annual defense authorization and the appropriations process, the Senate will embrace this essential debate about restoring America’s hard power head-on.
“This is a pivotal moment. Not a time for half-measures on America’s national security.”
Related Issues: China