In a recent development, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has expressed support for President Joe Biden’s executive order focused on the screening of U.S. investments in key national security sectors. This executive action, designed to address concerns related to countries of concern, including the People’s Republic of China, has been welcomed by Senator Casey as an important step toward safeguarding American technology and expertise from potential threats.
Senator Casey, a lead sponsor of the recently-passed Outbound Investment Transparency Act, has been advocating for both congressional and executive action to enhance the understanding of potential risks associated with foreign competitors gaining access to critical technology and know-how in sectors vital for national security.
Acknowledging the significance of the executive order, Senator Casey emphasized, “Today’s announcement is a welcome step in our Nation’s efforts to protect our technology and expertise from the Communist Chinese government. This executive action acknowledges the urgency of the issue and will allow the U.S. to reduce some of the risks we face from bad actors like China.”
However, he also stressed the importance of additional measures, stating, “Now we need to pass strong bipartisan legislation to protect our national and economic security for decades to come.”
Senator Casey, alongside Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), initially introduced the National Critical Capabilities Defense Act in May 2021 as an amendment to the United States Innovation and Competition Act. Since then, Senator Casey has been working diligently to garner bipartisan and bicameral support for this legislation, aimed at addressing concerns related to foreign adversaries’ access to critical capabilities, technology, and the manufacturing of goods essential to U.S. economic and national security interests.
The efforts to enhance scrutiny on outbound investments have received backing from key members of the Biden Administration, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
The groundwork for these actions began with Senator Casey and Senator Cornyn urging President Biden in September 2022 to take executive action to safeguard U.S. manufacturing power and technological know-how from foreign adversaries. Subsequently, they testified in support of the National Critical Capabilities Defense Act in front of the Senate Banking Committee, underscoring the need to assess potential risks associated with American investments in adversarial countries.
In a notable allocation, the Fiscal Year 2023 spending bill designated approximately $20 million in funding for the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Treasury to establish an outbound investment screening program by Executive Order, aligning with Senator Casey’s advocacy.
Further efforts to protect American innovation and national interests were highlighted in Casey’s op-ed in March 2023, followed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s announcement of an initiative aimed at strengthening America’s global leadership, which includes provisions for the screening of U.S. investments in countries of concern.
Leading up to the anticipated introduction of the Outbound Investment Transparency Act in 2023, Senator Casey continued to gain momentum for the policy. This was evident in June, as key Administration officials testified before the Senate Banking Committee, emphasizing the importance of screening American companies’ investments in countries of concern, aligning with Casey’s proposal.
In a compelling address to union workers and business leaders in Pittsburgh, Senator Casey outlined his vision for the United States to assume control of its economic future. He emphasized the need to prohibit certain investments to countries like China and to de-risk supply chains, particularly in the realm of national security industries. While advocating for stronger provisions to restrict U.S. corporations from investing in these sensitive sectors, Senator Casey remained steadfast in his commitment to a bipartisan approach.
This commitment to bipartisan collaboration was evident when, on July 13, Senator Casey and Senator Cornyn introduced the Outbound Investment Transparency Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Act later achieved resounding support, passing as part of the NDAA with an overwhelming vote of 91-6.
These collective efforts underscore Senator Casey’s dedication to fortifying the nation’s economic and national security interests through enhanced outbound investment screening and bipartisan cooperation. The steps taken thus far serve as pivotal milestones toward a more secure and resilient future for the United States.