This is more than a tad important given China’s crackdown in Hong Kong, though the original rationale for it was ensuring the US would not be reliant on a potentially (or actually, depending on your read) adversarial power for critical infrastructure. That was especially a concern given the Chinese government and Chinese companies’ propensity to build spyware into all sorts of technology being spat out of President Xi’s homeland.
But the ban might not make it into law because it turns out that while the Senate bill contains a blanket ban on using US taxpayer money on rail components and things like Chinese-made electric buses, the House version of the bill does not; the House version only bans the use of US taxpayer money where rail stock is concerned, and leaves open the ability of taxpayer money to be funneled to Chinese bus companies that are tight with the Chinese government.
You might have noticed that the Senate is Republican-led, while the House is Democratically-led. You also might have noticed that despite blistering hot takes like this piece in the New York Times that point a finger at Mitch McConnell and more specifically, his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for supposedly being “too tight” with the Chinese government, it’s the Senate bill that is tougher on China in this instance.
Here, we have Nancy Pelosi’s House giving away the farm. And, according to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has been in on the action, too.
If you read the Washington Post piece, you’ll notice something interesting. McCarthy’s spokesperson in the piece , Matt Sparks, sure doesn’t sound like he’s trying to deny McCarthy’s interest in allowing taxpayer money to keep flowing to the Chinese company in the spotlight, BYD. In fact, it contains this line “Matt Sparks, a spokesman for McCarthy, defended the congressman’s actions.”
But by the time we get to the later Wall Street Journal piece, it looks like McCarthy is actively trying to distance himself from the whole topic; the Journal write up notes that “Mr. McCarthy’s office said he wasn’t involved in the issue.” This is where Salem Communications, conservative media behemoth owned by Ed Atsinger—a big California GOP donor who is supposedly tight with McCarthy—comes in.
Yet magically, shortly after the piece posted, that line was edited out, and replaced with a note regarding the edit at the bottom of the story.
Did the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post—and Kira, who relied on both— all get the story wrong? Or is McCarthy feeling heat over these reported efforts to nix payments of US taxpayer monies to Chinese companies, and relying on a donor relationship with the guy who happens to own Townhall to hush it up and prevent conservatives from noticing?
According to FEC records, Atsinger and his wife have donated $14,250 to Kevin McCarthy’s campaign committee beginning in October 2014. In 2017, both Atsingers gave $2,700 to McCarthy’s California Victory 2018 PAC which was aimed at electing California Republicans (a particular priority for McCarthy).
You be the judge but it looks like something fishy may going on here—and not jut because Nancy Pelosi is involved.
Before the conference committee sets the language in the final bill, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put in a call to your Senators and Representative—whether they be Republicans or Democrats—and urge them to tell the conference committee that the Senate language needs to win out. Whether this is a Nancy Pelosi problem, a Kevin McCarthy problem, or both, it needs to be resolved and the situation in Hong Kong makes it especially important.