WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the following opening remarks at this morning’s business meeting to consider S. 1169, the Strategic Competition Act of 2021. The legislation represents the first major proposal to bring Democrats and Republicans together in laying out a strategic approach toward Beijing – and assuring that the United States is positioned to compete with China across all dimensions of national and international power for decades to come.
“The Strategic Competition Act is an unprecedented, bipartisan effort to mobilize all United States strategic, economic, and diplomatic tools for an Indo-Pacific strategy that will allow us to truly confront the challenges China poses to our national and economic security,” Chairman Menendez said. “This bill will help us reinforce and rebuild alliances and partnerships; restore American leadership of international and regional organizations; respond to China’s predatory economic practices; reinvest in replenishing the sources of our economic strength and innovation; and ground our approach to China in our values and highest aspirations as a nation.”
Today’s business meeting agenda:
1. S. 1169, Strategic Competition Act of 2021
2. S. 413, A bill to establish the China Censorship Monitor and Action Group, and for other purposes
3. S. 814, Ukraine Security Partnership Act of 2021, with an amendment in the nature of a substitute
4. The Honorable Victoria Nuland, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Political Affairs)
5. Ms. Uzra Zeya, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
A copy of Chairman Menendez’s full opening remarks as delivered below:
“Good morning. This business meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will come to order.
This morning, we will consider the Strategic Competition Act of 2021, as well as S. 413, a bill to establish the China Censorship Monitor and Action Group, and S. 814, the Ukraine Security Partnership Act of 2021.
We also have two nominees on the agenda: Victoria Nuland to be Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Uzra Zeya to be Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights. These positions are essential to advancing our diplomacy, our interests, and our values, and these two nominees are superbly qualified to do so, particularly given their decades of experience in the Foreign Service. I strongly support their nominations and urge all of my colleagues to work together toward their swift confirmation.
Let me turn to the legislative side of the agenda.
As I have said before, I believe that China today, led by Communist Party and propelled by Xi Jinping’s hyper-nationalism is unlike any challenge we have ever faced as a nation.
China today is challenging the United States and destabilizing the international community across every dimension of power: political, diplomatic, economic, innovation, military, even cultural, and with an alternative and deeply disturbing model for global governance.
So this is a challenge of unprecedented scope, scale and urgency, and one that demands a policy and strategy that is genuinely competitive.
So I am genuinely pleased that Senator Risch and I – with input from many Members of the Committee – have come together to create the Strategic Competition Act of 2021.
The Strategic Competition Act is an unprecedented, bipartisan effort to mobilize all United States strategic, economic, and diplomatic tools for an Indo-Pacific strategy that will allow us to truly confront the challenges China poses to our national and economic security. This moment demands a unified, strategic response that we can rebuild American leadership, invest in our ability to out-compete China, and reground diplomacy in our core values.
This bill will help us reinforce and rebuild alliances and partnerships; restore American leadership of international and regional organizations; respond to China’s predatory economic practices; reinvest in replenishing the sources of our economic strength and innovation; and ground our approach to China in our values and highest aspirations as a nation.
There should be little doubt that the right framework for thinking about our relationship with China is ‘strategic competition’ – not because that is what we want or what we have tried to create, but because of the choices that Beijing has and is making. And we must be clear-eyed and sober about Beijing’s intentions and actions, and calibrate our policy and strategy accordingly.
I want to reiterate my thanks to Ranking Member Risch for his excellent contributions, offered in a bipartisan spirit of cooperation. In fact, I would like to thank all of the Members and their staffs for their significant contributions to the bill. And I would be remiss if I did not extend my enormous appreciation to the Ranking Member’s staff and my own for their tireless efforts on this bill, which included hundreds of hours of painstaking negotiations, as well as countless late nights.
As I mentioned earlier, we will also be taking up the China Censorship Act, and I commend Senators Merkley and Rubio for their work on this bill. It is an important contribution, and they have been waiting for quite some time to get it out of the Committee.
Finally, with respect to Ukraine: In the seven years following Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian service members have selflessly and courageously continued to defend their homeland against Russian ground, sea, and cyberspace assaults that violate Ukrainian sovereignty and security. I am proud to join with Senator Risch on the Ukraine Security Partnership Act, a long-term security assistance package that demonstrates our bipartisan commitment to a secure Ukraine. As we all know, the security situation has grown increasingly dire, as thousands of Russian forces have amassed on Ukraine’s border. This bill could not be timelier in sending a message to the world that we stand by Ukraine.
Let me finally register my deep concern about the treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The Russian government must release Mr. Navalny immediately and allow him access to desperately-needed medical care. We must be perfectly clear that if he is not afforded this care, we are prepared to impose sanctions, not only on individuals, but on the Russian banking and financial sector. This is barbarism playing out in real time, and we cannot be silent.
With that, let me recognize our distinguished Ranking Member for his comments. Senator Risch.”