China bill could ease supply chain issues causing inflation, help US compete in 'dangerous world': Khanna

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When Congress returns later this month one of its top priorities will be coming to a compromise on Chinese competition legislation, with dozens of lawmakers set to meet in a "conference committee" to work out the details. 

The effort is more than a year in the making, but may be more important than ever, according to Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who said it could help address the root causes of inflation. 

"One of the reasons the price of cars have gone up, the price of some electronic goods has gone up, is we have a shortage of semiconductors, where it's too dependent on Taiwan and South Korea," Khanna said. "We need to make those have those good, high paying jobs here in the United States so that we also aren't dependent on shipping those products for thousands of miles. And with China's expansionist ambitions in Taiwan, it's critically important that that be in the United States."

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna speaks at a climate rally with presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Rashida Tlaib in Iowa City, Iowa, U.S. January 12, 2020. REUTERS/Scott Morgan.

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"I am thrilled that Speaker Pelosi has named me as conferee for the House’s America COMPETES Act," Khanna also said. "This bill will spread opportunities while also strengthening our supply chains and lowering costs for hardworking Americans."

On Tuesday it was announced that inflation in the U.S. hit a 40-year high with the consumer price index rising 8.5% in March from a year ago. The increase was partially driven by the Russian war on Ukraine but also supply chain issues that have been dragging on the economy for months. 

Khanna also said Russias's brutal war on Ukraine is part of the reason why Congress shouldn't delay on the bill, as the U.S. faces major threats to its superpower status from multiple fronts. 

"We need to have technology supremacy, technology leadership in the world, to make sure we're going to win in space, to make sure we're going to win with… hypersonic technology, with A.I. technology, quantum computing technology," Khanna told Fox News in an interview. "Putin's aggression shows us it's a dangerous world." 

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The House and Senate passed different China competition bills last year, leading to a nearly year-long stalemate between the two chambers. They again passed different versions of the more recent America COMPETES Act this spring, with the Senate bill getting a bipartisan majority of 68 votes while the House version got just one GOP vote. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends an event commemorating the 110th anniversary of Xinhai Revolution at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 9, 2021. Congress is considering a bill aimed at boosting U.S. industry in its competition with (AP Photo/Andy Wong / AP Newsroom)

The key for the conference committee will be to bridge the gap between the bills to allow it to clear 60 votes in the Senate without losing too many House Democrat votes that it doesn't pass. 

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., who was one of the leading co-sponsors with Khanna on the initial China bill last year, said the House version passed in February "is not a serious effort to make the US more competitive with China." A lack of guardrails on semiconductor funding was a major problem, Gallagher said. He also listed other issues including protecting U.S. research from China and ensuring investments in the bill are targeted at the right sectors of the economy, 

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Gallagher is not a conferee for the latest effort. But his office told Fox News Tuesday he is optimistic the conference committee can address those issues. Khanna also said he believes Congress can come to an agreement on the positive things in the bill.  

The House and Senate last week picked members of a conference committee to come to an agreement on a bill aimed at boosting U.S. competition against China. (Getty) (Photo illustration by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"It passed the Senate with bipartisan support, the COMPETES Act, and it passed the House with bipartisan support," Khanna told Fox News. "It's based on the bill that's bipartisan, my bill with Sen. Schumer, Todd Young and Mike Gallagher. It's going to be the largest increase in technology and development the country has seen since the Kennedy years. It's going to bring back production to America. It's going to allow things like semiconductor manufacturing in Ohio."

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The House and Senate will both reconvene in the last week of April, with approximately two months until the July 4 recess, after which passing any legislation is expected to become increasingly difficult with midterms looming in November.

Fox News' Megan Henney contributed to this report. 

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