House Democrats Want to Fund... Companies That Oppress Uyghurs?

November 5, 2021

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have released their latest version of President Biden’s budget-busting reconciliation bill, taking it from bad to worse. This bill, nearing $1.75 trillion in new spending, covers programs that will fund abortions, imposes a one-size-fits-all approach to childcare, and now includes new language that would allow taxpayer funding to subsidize Chinese companies that engage in human rights abuses.

A previous version of the bill included a provision titled “Forced Labor Prohibition,” which stated:

None of the funds provided in this title may be used in awarding a contract, subcontract, grant, or loan to an entity that is listed pursuant to section 9(b)(3) of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 (Public Law 2 116–145).

So, what type of “entities” are being referred to here? The provision above points to a section of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 that sought to identify Chinese companies that construct or operate the Xinjiang internment camps (which currently hold approximately 1.8 million Uyghur Muslims) or companies that provide or operate mass surveillance technology in Xinjiang.

The above provision would have blocked funds in the bill’s science, space, and technology program funding from going toward Chinese companies directly involved in oppressing the Uyghur people in Xinjiang. This is the region in China where the United States has officially determined that the Chinese government is committing an ongoing genocide against Uyghurs. The latest version of the reconciliation bill removed this provision.

Needless to say, blocking U.S. government funds from going to companies that are logistically facilitating the Chinese government’s totalitarian oppression in Xinjiang would have been a very good thing. It is also common sense.

But this isn’t Democrat’s first failure on this front. Reports indicate that the Biden administration is having fierce internal debates between those wanting to press China on human rights issues and those wanting to keep quiet in favor of securing China’s cooperation on climate change. This is deeply concerning. We should never be pressured into silence regarding the things that matter most.

The fact that this provision was removed is hardly the only thing wrong with the current reconciliation bill. But it’s problematic enough on its own.

Why anyone in the House would want to remove such a provision—and thereby possibly allow funding to go towards human rights abuses—is baffling. American taxpayers should never be made to fund foreign companies that are facilitating atrocities. The American people deserve better, and their representatives in the House should be looking out for their interests.