The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

The America COMPETES Act will help US fight corruption and kleptocracy around the world

After months of delays, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is finally prepared to move Democrats forward on a sweeping economic competitiveness package known as the America COMPETES Act of 2022. The 3,000-page bill represents the strongest congressional action yet to counter a rising China and push back against a growing global trend toward state authoritarianism.

It may be too much to hope that the America COMPETES Act passes along the same bipartisan lines as its Senate counterpart did in June 2021, but Pelosi’s control over her caucus ensures that the bill will pass along party lines. The bigger challenge for Pelosi and House Democrats will be ensuring that key portions of their ambitious bill survive what is sure to be a contentious Senate back-and-forth over which programs move forward and which are left behind on the cloakroom floor.

Despite Republican unwillingness to lend their support to anything that could be viewed as a victory for President Biden, Democrats’ America COMPETES Act has drawn broad bipartisan praise — no small feat in today’s hyperpolarized political environment.

Conservative writer Fiona Harrigan praised the bill’s creation of two new nonimmigrant visa programs and new exemptions from migrant quotas for skilled workers with doctorates in in-demand fields such as mathematics, science and engineering. Writing in Reason, Harrigan argued that “[T]he bill is right to recognize that immigrants are key to keeping this country prosperous. It’s also one of the biggest advantages the U.S. has over China.”  

Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which ultimately opposed the America COMPETES Act, conceded in a letter to lawmakers that “COMPETES includes some worthy components, including funding for the CHIPS for America act to bolster U.S. semiconductor capacity and new tools for supply chain resiliency.” 

Gallons of newspaper ink have been spilled discussing the admittedly critical effort to develop a domestic semiconductor industry, thus protecting the American supply chain from both natural and China-driven supply shocks. And that is critical if the United States intends to remain competitive in a world increasingly dependent on semiconductors for everything from consumer goods to complex weapons systems. But the bill’s strongest measures are hidden 1,200 pages into the text, and offer the United States an opportunity to modernize against Chinese and Russian threats. 

The most immediately impactful is the inclusion of the bipartisan Countering Russian and Other Overseas Kleptocracy Act, a powerful tool that would restore the United States to a position of anticorruption leadership it abandoned during the Trump administration.

The CROOK Act establishes a landmark Anticorruption Action Fund to support and strengthen a broad array of new and existing anti-corruption efforts at home and abroad. Around the world, gangster regimes like Russia and China routinely shake down American and global businesses for bribes that are then used to finance sustained assaults on human rights. With the United States taking the lead and CROOK empowering the Defense Department, Department of Justice and State Department to pursue foreign bribery as a national security risk, it will finally be feasible to dent this massive inflow of swindled money to the world’s most corrupt regimes.

“There is no better indicator of the need to confront corruption around the world than Vladimir Putin’s disgraceful actions against democratic activist Alexei Navalny,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) wrote about sponsoring the CROOK Act in the Senate last year. “By targeting individual wrongdoers, this legislation would help to counter the influence of corrupt actors on the world stage, whether they be from Russia, China, or Venezuela. Any steps we can take to crack down on illegal practices and strengthen the rule of law are welcome.”

Now, belatedly, Congress is on the verge of turning those big corruption-fighting promises into powerful law.

Equally important is reauthorizing and strengthening the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, one of America’s most effective efforts to sanction and punish antidemocratic regimes like Russia and China for engaging in everything from money laundering to assaults on human rights in their own nations and overseas. Russia continued to lead the world in sanctions last year, and its brazen campaign of kleptocracy and open air corruption has grown in tandem with its warmongering on the Ukrainian border. Ensuring that the Global Magnitsky Act remains durable against ascendant kleptocracies is now a pressing national security concern.

Protecting American national security and economic competitiveness can and should be a bipartisan issue in 2022, the same as it was during the Senate’s China bill debate last year. Unfortunately, election year politics likely mean that Democrats will face universal GOP opposition. That must not stop this critical process from moving forward, and Democrats in both the House and Senate must do right by the American people and ensure these critical anticorruption measures arrive on Biden’s desk unaltered. 

If they succeed, the America COMPETES Act will be more than a victory for Biden and Democrats. It will set the United States up to return to its leadership position in fighting corruption and kleptocracy around the world. 

Max Burns is a Democratic strategist and founder of Third Degree Strategies, a progressive communications firm. Follow him on Twitter @themaxburns.

Tags America COMPETES Act China Joe Biden Kleptocracy Magnitsky Act Nancy Pelosi Political corruption Roger Wicker Russia Sanctions against Russia Vladimir Putin

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Regular the hill posts

People – Image widget – Person – Main Area Top

File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

QAT WC-2613

People – Image – Person

In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)

People - Video Bin - Person

The White House is pushing 'Bidenomics,' but what does it mean?

The White House is pushing 'Bidenomics,' but what ...
DC Bureau: AI Legal Immunity (raquel)
KXAN: special session
DC Bureau: Biden economic display (basil)
KTXL: ca budget folo
WHTM: good gov bills
More Videos

Main area middle

main area bottom custom html

MAIN Area bottom

People – Custom HTML – Person

MAIN AREA BOTTOM

People - Article Bin - 7 Headline List with Featured Image - Person

Main area bottom

Most Popular

Load more