The Senate competitiveness bill passed on a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32 — whether that can be repeated in this midterm election year is unclear.
But if there is one foreign policy matter right now which provides some common ground between the parties, it is pushing back against the Chinese.
For a number of Republicans, that has included a call to boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“China is our number one competitor,” U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point said in December. “They are a threat to our freedoms.”
Just last week, Ferguson was one of a dozen Georgia lawmakers who joined a bipartisan letter signed by 137 House members, urging the Biden Administration to get tough on the Chinese when it comes to trade.
“We strongly support tough and effective action to address China’s unfair trade practices,” the group wrote.
But trade with China is a tricky issue, as those same Georgia lawmakers also asked the feds to ease off on extra import duties levied on Chinese products coming into the U.S. because those tariffs have increased costs for American businesses and consumers.
And that’s the policy conundrum. While Donald Trump eagerly slapped new tariffs on China, their cost to consumers — and the retaliation which hit U.S. agriculture — did not help the economy overall.
Want to get tough with China? Sounds simple enough — but it also could create unwanted collateral economic damage.
That might leave the China competitiveness bill as a possible policy alternative. We’ll see in coming months whether the two parties can get it to the President’s desk.
Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com