EXCLUSIVE: Republican Rep. Byron Donalds is expected to roll out legislation that would prohibit the Biden administration from "giving away" American intellectual property after the White House announced its support for a waiver of IP protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
The bill, titled the "Preventing Foreign Attempts to Erode Healthcare Innovation Act," is intended to "prevent the Biden Administration from senselessly giving away America's intellectual property to countries like China," Donalds, R-Fla., told Fox News.
"It deeply concerns me to hear of the Biden administration's plan to forgo IP protections on COVID-19 vaccines. This plan is a direct infringement upon American ingenuity and innovation and hands over our nation's intellectual prowess for the world's taking," Donalds told Fox News. "This administration has made it a point to put America last, and this is just another glaring example of this sad reality."
Donalds’ legislation has the support of the House Republican Study Committee and its chair, Rep. Jim Banks.
"Biden is once again proving that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and not the American people have a seat at his table. In a brazen move, Biden has agreed to waive the IP rights of American innovators and workers," Banks told Fox News. "By refusing to support American inventions and hard work, he is ensuring that China, where this pandemic began, reaps the benefits of American ingenuity."
He added: "Rep. Donalds’ bill is a win for American workers, families and innovators."
The bill comes after U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Wednesday announced the Biden administration’s support for the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organization waiver, which would waive IP protections for COVID-19-related patents, such as vaccines.
"This is a global health crisis and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures," Tai said in a statement Wednesday. "The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines."
Tai said the administration would be "actively" participating in "text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization needed to make the happen."
"Those negotiations will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved," Tai said, adding that the Biden administration’s aim is to "get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible."
"As our vaccine supply for the American people is secured, the administration will continue to ramp up its efforts—working with the private sector and all possible partners—to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution," Tai said, adding that the administration will also work to "increase the raw materials needed to produce those vaccines."
White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday said the White House discussed the issue with experts before presenting options to President Biden.
"The president supported the waiver, he thought of it as a humanitarian issue…to help save lives," Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One Thursday. "You're all standing here with masks, living in an unprecedented time with the pandemic—we have to do everything we can."
She added that the decision is a "process" and "will take time."
"It won't happen tomorrow," she said, adding that the administration is continuing to have conversations and negotiations.
Despite Republican concerns, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the IP waiver would not impact Moderna’s bottom line or its vaccine.
"It doesn't change anything for Moderna," Bancel said. "People don't know how to make it."
"If someone wants to start from scratch, they would have to figure out how to make mRNA, which is not in our patents," he continued. "I really believe that the IP is not the issue. For mRNA, this is the wrong question."
Meanwhile, Republicans’ concerns, specifically with regard to China’s use of American IP, comes after the U.S. intelligence community warned last month that China will attempt to use "vaccine diplomacy" to increase its influence around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, in coordination with Intelligence Community leaders, last month released an unclassified annual report of worldwide threats to the national security of the United States.
"China will try to increase its influence using 'vaccine diplomacy,' giving countries favored access to the COVID-19 vaccines it is developing," the report warns, also noting that some governments, including China but also Russia "are using offers of medical supplies and vaccines to try to boost their geopolitical standing."