A legislation hoping to boost competitiveness with China was passed by a US House of Representatives on Thursday. The “Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act”, or popularly known as the Eagle Act, was advanced to strengthen the US’ ties with Quad nations such as India, Australia and Japan and countries in Southeast Asia. The Democrats are in favour of the act while Republicans stand opposed to it. The legislation includes potential provisions which can strengthen US diplomacy and leadership in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region, also deal with challenges posed by China.
Committee’s chairman Gregory Meeks said “the bill includes provisions which will address issues such as China’s alleged human rights abuses of the Uyghur Muslim minority in its Xinjiang region, closer ties to Taiwan, and the need to provide special immigration status to residents of Hong Kong.” The legislation proposes to establish a Quad Intra-Parliamentary Working Group to promote ties between legislators of the US, Japan, Australia, and India — countries which are considered to be key partners with shared values and interests in the Indo-Pacific.
It also aims to establish a policy that the US ambassador to the United Nations would serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet. To counter the People’s Republic of China’s proliferation of ballistic missiles and nuclear technology to the Middle East, it includes key provisions of the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Act. Moreover to enhance US investment ability to support international development goals, it hopes to strengthen the US Development Finance Corporation by increasing its liability cap from $60 billion to $100 billion and requiring its equity investments to be treated as consistent with the Federal Credit Reform Act.
Republicans oppose the Act in a desire for a hard line in dealings with China. However, the Republicans said they felt the Eagle Act called for too many studies and would be a missed opportunity to take meaningful action like tightening control of technology exports to Beijing. They also objected to a few climate-related provisions and said it was too soft on Beijing. Apart from this, the bill would provide billions of dollars for the United Nations Green Climate Fund, which Republicans dismissed as a “slush fund” for the world body.
It was not immediately clear when the Eagle Act might come up for a vote in the full House.