The U.S. House of Representatives just barely passed Speaker Nancy Pelosi's signature COMPETES Bill – a piece of legislation ostensibly aimed at increasing American competitiveness abroad. The bill, which carries a price tag in the tens of billions, was passed with a 222-210 vote. The tally split almost perfectly along party lines.
Democrats have touted the bill's climate provisions and subsidies for key American manufacturing sectors. Republicans have criticized the bill's emphasis on climate change policy and sections of the legislation that some conservatives believe will hurt small businesses domestically. Additionally, Republicans have complained that the bill does little to address the U.S.'s biggest economic rival internationally, China.
"Instead of acting in the best interests of Americans, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have pushed a liberal special interest wish list, filled with irrelevant and harmful policies," Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer, Republican congressman from Missouri told Fox News in a statement. "This bill not only harms America’s interests abroad, but continues to push harmful policies on America’s small businesses. The America CONCEDES Act pedals burdensome labor union requirements by giving unions unfair advantages over small businesses and independent workers."
The House Democrats’ China competitiveness bill includes a number of immigration provisions and categories — policies that critics say do not belong in such a piece of legislation and that could lead to abuse by Chinese nationals.
"It is about making America... self-sufficient when it comes to the supply chain, so that we're not depending on other countries," Pelosi said.
Luetkemeyer's office told Fox News that the congressman takes issue with two consecutive sections of the bill specifically, Sections 20203 and 20204
According to Section 20203, the bill "requires the Assistant Secretary, in consultation with a coordination group established under this section, to map, monitor, and model supply chains to identify supply chain vulnerabilities and opportunities to address threats."
This aspect of the bill is expanded upon in the subsequent section, which "authorizes $45 billion for the period of FY 2022 through 2027 for the Assistant Secretary to provide grants, loans, and loan guarantees that support the resilience, diversity, security, and strength of supply chains, including for activities that support the manufacturing or acquisition of critical goods, enhance manufacturing facilities, and create surge capacity."
Section 20204 also states the system will "empower labor unions by requiring funding applicants to promise they will not oppose unionization efforts or abrogate a collective bargaining agreement for 2 years after repaying a loan."
Luetkemeyer warned that the bill would have far-reaching ramifications on the American economy – especially small businesses.
"House Democrats are pushing a disastrous Supply Chain Resiliency program with the price tag of $45 billion. This program would empower unions by requiring funding applicants to promise they will not oppose unionization efforts," Luetkemeyer added. "This bill is nothing short of an effort to hold small business owners hostage. The federal government has no place in forcing even more regulations on small businesses, causing devastating harm to America’s job creators."
Included in the text is a provision giving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Hong Kong nationals and refugee status for 18 months after the enactment of the bill, and authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to provide special status for up to 5,000 Hong Kong residents deemed to be highly skilled. It also treats Hong Kong as separate from China for the purposes of immigration.
Additionally, the bill includes provisions for a new visa classification — the W visa. That nonimmigrant (or temporary) visa would be for "entrepreneurs," their employees and the family members of their employees.
The visa would be available for those who possess an ownership interest in a startup entity of greater than 10% and who will "play a central and active role in the management or operations of the start-up entity" and if that startup received at least $250,000 in investments or $100,000 in government grants.