A Real China Competition Bill Would Focus On Defense

Senate Democrats Are Talking About Another Bill To Boost U.S. Competition With China, But Are Focused On More Industrial Policy And Domestic Spending, But The United States Must Out-Compete China Most Of All In Military Capabilities And Senate Democrats Keep Failing To Prioritize Defense


SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Our Democratic friends like to invoke America’s competition with China whenever they’re seeking to justify huge outlays of domestic spending. But they push the nuts and bolts of actually defending America to the back burner. Case in point: Chairman Reed just announced the Armed Services Committee will wait an entire extra month before even beginning consideration of this year’s NDAA. China isn’t waiting around and twiddling its thumbs. But apparently Leader Schumer’s Senate will be. And what would the Democratic majority have us do instead? Our colleagues are making a push for a grab bag of left-of-center domestic priorities they want to label as another ‘China bill.’ Let’s remember the last so-called China bill that we just passed last year. … President Biden’s approach to implementing the law has been atrocious. They’re violating congressional intent and trying to attach extra strings to the microchip money to end-run liberal social policy through the private sector. … If our colleagues were truly serious about competing with China, first of all, they would prioritize the NDAA, not let it languish. … If our Democratic colleagues really want us to out-compete China, let’s put first things first. And stop using this issue as a Trojan horse for unrelated liberal demands.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 5/11/2023)

SEN. ROGER WICKER (R-MS), Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member: “China’s military is growing so quickly that we will not long deter them – unless we invest more in our military, too. It will cost a lot to deter Beijing. But it will cost a lot more if we do not…. We know China intends to dominate the Pacific. They boast about it in public speeches, and they are building a military capable of turning their rhetoric into reality…. As China’s military rises, regrettably, the United States military has treaded water…. This moment is a fork in the road. Neither the peace we have enjoyed nor the war some predict are inevitable. Decisions we make will determine whether that occurs. Effective deterrence will be a complex operation, but its starting place is simple: we must, once again, for the third year, increase the military budget.” (Sen. Wicker, Remarks, 3/30/2023)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME), Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chair: “The administration's 2022 National Defense Strategy accurately describes the accelerating threat of China as the chairman has indicated and its unprecedented military modernization. However, in my judgment, the administration's budget request does not fully reflect the challenges identified in its own national defense strategy. For example, the president's budget request would result in a fleet of 291 ships at the end of the next five years. That is smaller than today's fleet of 296 ships and significantly smaller than the Navy's own requirement of 373 ships. I'm also concerned with the contrast to the more than 440 ships that China is expected to have by the year 2030. The budget request also inadequately accounts for the impact of inflation, investment and readiness accounts.” (U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense Hearing, 3/28/2023)


Senate Republicans Want To Counter China By Rebuilding Our Military And Supporting Taiwan, But So Far Senate Democrats Are Just Proposing More Domestic Spending And Mandates: ‘We Want To Stay Focused On China’

“Senate Republicans are open to working with Democrats on another China competition package, but some worry the majority will try to load it up with new spending and lose bipartisan appeal. Senate Democrats on Wednesday announced their committees in the coming months would assemble a massive legislative package to combat the Chinese government’s economic and military expansion plans. This effort is intended to follow up on the bipartisan chips and science law enacted last year.” (“Republicans Leery Of Democrats’ China Competition Plan,” Roll Call, 5/04/2023)

  • “One Republican aide called the initiative insufficient and argued Democrats are piling on too many side issues rather than focusing more on Taiwan and military preparedness. ‘If we can’t get the next five years right then the 20-year plans they’re proposing don’t matter,’ the aide told me. Another Republican aide also faulted the initiative for what they described as a lack of emphasis on U.S. dependence on critical minerals from China...” (“Democrats Want Another Big Bipartisan China Bill. Are Republicans Still Game?,” Semafor, 5/03/2023)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman: “This is not just a competition with the Chinese Communist Party, it is a geopolitical, diplomatic, societal, technology, commercial, and trade conflict. It is time we start acting like it. We cannot pass another bill that allows taxpayer dollars to fund Chinese companies or research that is easily stolen by China. It doesn’t make sense. If Senate Democrats are serious about this effort, they should be reaching out to Republicans instead of holding partisan press conferences. We need to strengthen our military, rebuild our industrial base, safeguard our research, and protect our capital markets. I am ready to work with anyone to get this done, but it does not appear Senator Schumer and the Biden White House are serious.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 5/04/2023)

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): “It just depends on what the package looks like, truly, because what we don’t want to see is some sort of omnibus Christmas bill. We want to stay focused on China.” (“Republicans Leery Of Democrats’ China Competition Plan,” Roll Call, 5/04/2023)

REMINDER: The Biden Administration Took Last Year’s Bipartisan China Competition Legislation And Turned It Into A Vehicle For Forcing Through Left-Wing Social Policies That Congress Never Voted For

“Republican senators are accusing the Biden administration of using $39 billion meant to build computer chip factories to further ‘woke’ ideas such as requiring some recipients to offer child care and encouraging the use of union labor.” (“GOP Senators: Computer Chip Money Underwriting ‘Woke’ Agenda,” The Associated Press, 3/02/2023)

SENS. STEVE DAINES (R-MT), JOHN CORNYN (R-TX), THOM TILLIS (R-NC), AND BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): “We are in strong opposition to regulations [the Commerce] Department is putting in place that will use this legislation and the funding it provides as a tool to pursue controversial policies that go beyond the requirements of the law and reduce American jobs and high-tech investments in the process. This overreach unfortunately does not come as a surprise considering [Secretary Gina Raimondo] stated on the day [the department] rolled out these regulations, ‘If Congress wasn’t going to do what they should have done, we’re going to do it in implementation.’” (Sen. Daines, Press Release, 3/16/2023)

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): “What President Biden is doing by jamming woke and green agenda items into legislation we pass is making it harder for him to ever get legislation passed again.” (“GOP Senators: Computer Chip Money Underwriting ‘Woke’ Agenda,” The Associated Press, 3/02/2023)

“Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he voted to ‘give us the capabilities that we don’t have,’ not the ‘union agenda’ that he sees embedded in the application process.” (“GOP Senators: Computer Chip Money Underwriting ‘Woke’ Agenda,” The Associated Press, 3/02/2023)

“Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said the mandates for accessing government support would raise the cost of completing the factories planned … ‘What we’re beginning to do is discount the value of the investment that we’re making,’ Tillis said. ‘I think that what we’re doing is social engineering.’” (“GOP Senators: Computer Chip Money Underwriting ‘Woke’ Agenda,” The Associated Press, 3/02/2023)


Meanwhile, Chuck Schumer’s Senate Is Once Again Failing To Make Defense A Priority, Announcing A Delay In This Year’s NDAA After He Failed To Even Bring The Senate’s Version Of Last Year’s NDAA To The Floor For Debate And Amendments

“The Senate Armed Services Committee will postpone consideration of the fiscal 2024 defense authorization bill… According to a committee aide, the panel is now planning to mark up the bill in mid-June, although these plans could change. Previously, the committee had aimed to complete consideration in May.” (“Senate NDAA Consideration Postponed Amid Debt Drama,” CQ News, 5/08/2023)

FLASHBACK: LEADER McCONNELL: “Republicans spent months urging the Democratic majority not to neglect this year’s National Defense Authorization Act; not to leave our Armed Forces to the last minute. Five months ago, I called on our colleagues to process the defense bill as soon as possible. But instead, the majority has prioritized not just gigantic partisan spending sprees, but also a parade of mid-level nominations. The Democratic Leader didn’t even bring a Senate NDAA to the floor, forcing Senators Reed and Inhofe to conduct an informal conference with the House with a weakened hand…. on Democrats’ watch, the Senate schedule has not matched the nation’s needs. We have spent time on less important matters while both the authorization and the funding for our servicemembers have languished until the 11th hour.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 12/06/2022)


According To A Pentagon Report Released Last Year, China Is Aiming To Complete Its Military Modernization By 2027 As It ‘Pursues Taiwan Unification’

China Is Increasing Its Military Spending By Around 7 Percent But ‘Its Actual Military-Related Spending Is Likely Significantly Higher Than What It States In Its Official Budget’

“In 2021, the PRC announced its annual military budget would increase by 6.8 percent, continuing more than 20 years of annual defense spending increases and sustaining its position as the second-largest military spender in the world. As the PRC’s published military budget omits several major categories of expenditures, its actual military-related spending is likely significantly higher than what it states in its official budget.” (“Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” U.S. Department of Defense, 11/29/2022)

China Has A Military Modernization Objective Of 2027 ‘To Be A More Credible Military Tool For The Chinese Communist Party To Wield As It Pursues Taiwan Unification’

“In 2021, the PRC increasingly turned to the [People’s Liberation Army] as an instrument of statecraft as it adopted more coercive and aggressive actions in the Indo-Pacific region. Having purportedly achieved its 2020 modernization goal, the PLA now sets its sights to 2027 with a goal to accelerate the integrated development of mechanization, information, and intelligentization of the PRC’s armed forces. If realized, this 2027 objective could give the PLA capabilities to be a more credible military tool for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to wield as it pursues Taiwan unification.” (“Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” U.S. Department of Defense, 11/29/2022)

“In 2021, the PLA continued to make progress implementing major structural reforms, fielding modern indigenous systems, building readiness, and strengthening its competency to conduct joint operations.” (“Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” U.S. Department of Defense, 11/29/2022)

The PRC has mobilized vast resources in support of its defense modernization, including through its Military-Civil Fusion (MCF) Development Strategy, as well as espionage activities to acquire sensitive, dual use, and military-grade equipment. The PRC has substantially reorganized its defense-industrial sector to improve weapon system research, development, acquisition, testing, evaluation, and production.” (“Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” U.S. Department of Defense, 11/29/2022)

The Chinese Navy Is The Largest In The World And Its Modernization Efforts Are Meant To ‘Deter And Counter Any Potential Third-Party Intervention In A Taiwan Conflict’

“The [People’s Liberation Army Navy] is numerically the largest navy in the world with an overall battle force of approximately 340 ships and submarines, including approximately 125 major surface combatants. As of 2021, the PLAN is largely composed of modern multi-mission ships and submarines.” (“Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” U.S. Department of Defense, 11/29/2022)

“The PLAN is improving its anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine warfare capabilities, further developing an at-sea nuclear deterrence, and introducing new multi-mission platforms capable of conducting diverse missions during peace and war. New attack submarines and modern surface combatants with anti-air capabilities and fourth-generation naval aircraft are designed to achieve maritime superiority within the First Island Chain to deter and counter any potential third-party intervention in a Taiwan conflict.” (“Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” U.S. Department of Defense, 11/29/2022)

China Is On Pace To Triple Its Nuclear Arsenal To 1,500 Warheads By 2035

“In 2020, the DoD estimated China’s operational nuclear warhead stockpile was in the low-200s and expected to double by 2030. However, Beijing probably accelerated its nuclear expansion, and DoD estimates this stockpile has now surpassed 400 operational nuclear warheads. … The PLA plans to ‘basically complete modernization’ of its national defense and armed forces by 2035. If China continues the pace of its nuclear expansion, it will likely field a stockpile of about 1,500 warheads by that time.” (“Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” U.S. Department of Defense, 11/29/2022)


Defense And Intelligence Leaders Keep Warning That ‘China’s Leaders Are Increasing Their Investment In A World Class Military,’ ‘We Recognize The People’s Republic Of China As Our Pacing Threat’

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR AVRIL D. HAINES: “I’m grateful for the opportunity to present the annual threat assessment… The report starts with the People’s Republic of China as it is increasingly challenging the United States economically, technologically, politically, militarily and from an intelligence standpoint around the world. … China’s leaders are increasing their investment in a world class military, expanding their country’s nuclear arsenal and cyber threat capacity, pursuing counter space weapons capable of targeting US and allied satellites, forcing foreign companies and coercing foreign countries to allow the transfer of technology and intellectual property in order to boost indigenous capabilities.” (Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 5/04/2023)

ADMIRAL JOHN C. AQUILINO, Commander Of United States Indo-Pacific Command: “Our national defense strategy identifies the PRC as the most consequential strategic competitor to the United States, and the only competitor capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological capabilities, to mount a sustained challenge to the rules based international order.” (Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 4/20/2023)

‘Our Pacing Challenge: China, China, China’

SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE FRANK KENDALL: “Approximately one year ago, I began my testimony before this Committee with a quote from General Douglas MacArthur reminding us that the history of failure in war can almost always be summed up in two words: too late. That warning is even more valid today…. [T]he Department of the Air Force has worked to define the capabilities and technologies that we need, along with the programs and resources required to deter, and if necessary, prevail over our pacing challenge: China, China, China.” (U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense Hearing, 4/18/2023)

SECRETARY OF THE NAVY CARLOS DEL TORO:We recognize the People’s Republic of China as our pacing threat. Executing a strategy aimed at upending international order. To preserve our way of life The National Defense Strategy calls upon the joint force to deter aggression while being prepared to prevail in conflict. A strong Navy and Marine Corps are the foundation upon which the success of the joint force exists.” (U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense Hearing, 3/28/2023)

Pentagon Leaders Are Pointing To ‘The Need For A More Robust Defense Industrial Base,’ Noting That ‘Multi-Year Procurements Are Critical’

SECRETARY OF THE ARMY CHRISTINE WORMUTH: “One of the most important lessons we’ve learned from the situation in Ukraine is the need for a more robust defense industrial base…. Even as our soldiers provide lethal assistance and train the Ukrainian armed forces, we haven’t taken our eye off of the pacing challenge of China. INDOPACOM may be a theater named after two oceans, but the Army does have an important role to play there. The best way to avoid fighting a war is to show that you could win any war you might have to fight.” (U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense Hearing, 5/02/2023)

SEC. DEL TORO: “I believe that multi-year procurements are critical to growing the size of the fleet in terms of buying individual platforms and ships and such as critical as it is also to invest in munitions.”

SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): “Okay. And what do you expect in return from the industrial base with long-term predictability?”
SEC. DEL TORO: “Well, I expect their commitment to recapitalize in order to be able to provide these missiles at the pace that we’re requiring them for both the challenge that we face [in] Ukraine as well as the potential need to be able to deter China and the Taiwan scenario as well, too. And these missiles will be required in the numbers necessary to be able to get there. So industry has to do its parts with a consistent signal being sent by the Department of Defense that we will be purchasing these missiles for a long period of time. They should feel comfortable in their confidence that they can invest in their own capitalization and their workforce to be able to produce these missiles and systems that are needed.” (U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense Hearing, 3/28/2023)



Related Issues: National Security, China, America's Military, Senate Democrats