Hello. It’s a busy week ahead on Capitol Hill.
Are you a fan of congressional conference committees? If so, the 117th Congress hasn’t been particularly exciting for you, so far.
Contest Conference Committee to be convened
This week is expected organize the first meeting of the first conference committee of this Congress, and the stakes are high. Members of both houses will begin the arduous process of finding a compromise between their two versions of a sweeping competitiveness bill.
The package is intended to bolster America’s competitiveness in years to come as China seeks to overtake the United States on the world stage.
There are many things lawmakers can agree on: increased funding for semiconductor chip manufacturing, expanded scientific research initiatives, and strengthened supply chains. But the two bills contain many differences, ranging from the House measure’s climate provisions to the Senate bill’s tariff relief for businesses.
If you want a background read, we’ve covered the details of the House bill and how it compares to the Senate version earlier this year here and here. The Senate passed its version of the competition bill last June, and the House followed with its version in February.
One of the most impactful debates in the coming weeks will center on the key immigration policies of the House bill, which are not in the version passed by the Senate. A section would exempt immigrants with advanced degrees in STEM fields from annual green card limits.
According to the National Immigration Forum, STEM PhDs who have job offers in the United States can sometimes wait more than a decade for admission.
Another provision of the House legislation would establish a new visa status allowing qualified international contractors or employees who work with start-ups in the United States to come to the country. The visa would initially last for three years, but skilled workers could extend it for another five years.
It is unknown which items will end up on the cutting floor. A bipartisan group of former national security leaders and politicians is publicly urging Congress to uphold House provisions on immigration, arguing the policies will help America compete with China in science and technology. technology.
In a letter sent Monday, the signatories who served in the Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency pleaded in favor of maintaining the policies of ‘immigration. Among them: former Secretaries of Defense William Cohen (Clinton Administration) and Chuck Hagel (Obama Administration), David Norquist (who served as Acting Secretary of Defense during the Trump Administration), and former GOP Representatives Mac Thornberry and Barbara Comstock. Thornberry, who did not seek re-election in 2020, was previously the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.
“The United States remains the most desirable destination for the world’s top international scientists and engineers – a feat that China, despite significant investment, is nowhere near replicating,” the letter said. “Bottlenecks in the U.S. immigration system risk squandering this advantage.”
“China is the most significant technological and geopolitical competitor that our country has faced in
lately,” the letter continues. “With the best STEM talent in the world on his side, it will be very difficult for America to lose. Without that, it will be very difficult for America to win.
The House competition legislation also includes a bill giving ethnic minorities in Xinjiang priority refugee status in the United States, which would make it easier for them to apply from third countries and offer them greater protection against the influence of China. It is not in the Senate bill, although it has bipartisan support in this chamber. Experts have pointed to the shift as one of the most tangible steps America can take to help Uyghurs and other victims of the Chinese genocide.
Book sheds light on genocide in Xinjiang
Nury Turkel was born in 1970 in a Chinese prison.
It is fitting that the first four months of his life, spent in prison with his mother in China’s northwest region, Xinjiang, are how Turkel’s book, No leakbegin.
No leak, released today, tells the story of Turkel in Xinjiang, his advocacy in the United States, and how the Chinese government’s oppression kept him from being with his aging parents. But beyond the memoirs, the book has one main purpose: to raise awareness about the genocide in Xinjiang.
Since arriving in the United States after earning an undergraduate degree in 1995, Turkel has been a strong advocate for Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. He went to law school at American University and became the first Uyghur lawyer trained in the United States. He founded the Uyghur Human Rights Project nearly two decades ago, has testified several times before Congress, and is now a commissioner on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. With no leak, Turkel hopes to get his message about the atrocities in Xinjiang to a wider audience who may not be fully aware of the horrors facing Uyghurs.
“My experience begging people to pay attention, begging those with the ability to tell the difference, has been extremely frustrating,” Turkel said. The Dispatch in an interview. In no leak, it aims to make the question both personal and applicable to people who may not have spent much time thinking about human rights in China.
“I believe in the power of personal storytelling,” Turkel says.
The book recounts harrowing experiences within China’s network of concentration camps – torture, rape and brutal conditions for prisoners. Turkel introduces us to men and women personally affected by the genocide in different ways, and how their suffering continues today, even for those who managed to leave Xinjiang for other countries.
I had the good fortune to read an advance copy of No leak a few weeks ago, and it’s heartbreaking. Turkel’s writing is powerful. Not only does it shed light on the genocide, but it also introduces readers to Uyghur culture and the longer forms of oppression they faced under the Chinese government.
It also includes a section on China’s use of technology and surveillance, which it describes as a digital dictatorship. Turkel writes that the initial optimism that the internet and technological advances could boost democracy around the world was misplaced: authoritarian countries now have more powerful tools to oppress their citizens and promote their interests in other countries.
“I don’t see enough pushback. It’s not about nationalism. It’s not about projecting, promoting, protecting American leadership,” Turkel said. The Dispatch of this chapter. “It’s about the ongoing influence operations, the transnational repression that makes this country almost unrecognizable.”
“Forget other moral issues for a minute. What future do you want? What kind of country do you want? he adds. “Competition is good. You and I can compete, but we’re not here to destroy each other. But the CCP wants to replace us. It is not a competition. It’s a huge threat to national security.”
The book was released today, available here. Turkel talks about it at an event today at noon. The live stream is here.
On the floor
The House is expected to vote this week on nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine. Members will also vote on a measure allowing congressional staff to form unions. A full list of bills the House may consider this week is available here.
The Senate is expected to introduce a bill to codify abortion rights, although it does not have enough support to pass.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Scott Berrier appear before a Senate panel this morning for an annual hearing on global threats. Information and video here.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee this morning on an annual financial stability report. Information and video here.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will testify before a House Appropriations subcommittee this afternoon on his department’s budget request for the upcoming fiscal year. Information and live stream here.
Lawrence Tabak, acting director of the National Institutes of Health, and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will appear Wednesday morning alongside other administration officials for a subcommittee hearing on House appropriations on NIH funding for fiscal year 2023. and live stream here.
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