An exasperated Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted his frustration late Thursday after the Senate on a 91-4 vote adopted a measure that cuts U.S. tariffs on hundreds of products imported from China.
“The ‘China bill’ now reduces tariffs on hundreds of products made in #China. Why would we cut tariffs on China in a bill to improve American’s ability to compete with China? And only @HawleyMO, @TomCottonAR @BernieSanders, and I voted against it. #Strangebedfellows,” Rubio said in his tweet.
Just a few minutes before that tweet, Rubio tweeted a segment of his floor speech from earlier in the day in which he passionately told Senate colleagues the national security safeguards in the bill to protect U.S. technology research are inadequate.
“What I want you to understand is this is not a minor security threat, this is the number one priority of Chinese intelligence, this is what all of their agencies and all of their government are geared towards doing,” Rubio said, referring to Chinese digital and human intelligence theft of American secrets.
Rubio’s ire was stirred by the amendment that ran to more than 280 pages, making major changes to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, formerly known as the Endless Frontier Act.
The amendment was introduced by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and co-sponsored by Republican senators Charles Grassley of Iowa, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Steve Daines of Montana, John Cornyn of Texas, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Todd Young of Indiana.
An internal analysis of the amendment described it as having four major flaws, including:
- First, it would break with precedent by establishing the first Inspector General for an office in the Executive Office of the President.
- Second, it removes tariffs on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), undercutting American producers who have made significant investments in capacity because of the pandemic.
- Third, the new enforcement tools given the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on digital trade do not meaningfully advance U.S. industry, and are supported by Google and other Big Tech companies as a means to evade foreign regulations and taxes.
- Finally, the amendment reauthorizes the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), which unilaterally reduces tariffs on thousands of products made in China.