Foreign Policy for America Statement on the Passage of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021

June 8, 2021

Foreign Policy for America Statement on the Passage of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021

Washington, DC – Following the passage of S. 1260, the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, Foreign Policy for America issued the following statement:

The relationship between the United States and China is complex and managing it requires the U.S. to be prepared to both compete with and work alongside China in addressing the most pressing global challenges and national security threats. Foreign Policy for America is glad to see the Senate take early steps to prepare to manage this relationship by passing S. 1260, the United States Innovation and Competition Act. This legislation invests in research and development of cutting-edge technology the U.S. needs in order to reinvigorate our economy. Enhancing our own economic competitiveness by investing in the health of our workforce and our capacity for innovation is the most important way to ensure our future economic security.

In the section outlining priorities for U.S. foreign policy, the Strategic Competition Act, Foreign Policy for America appreciates the bill’s focus on strengthening the capacity of our bilateral and multilateral diplomacy as part of our strategy to compete with China’s growing influence. The emphasis on regional solutions and expanding our diplomatic cooperation with the QUAD and ASEAN countries signals an important shift and should be followed by increased resources for diplomacy in the region. The recognition that climate change and environmental disasters pose real national security challenges is especially relevant to rebuilding trust and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific. FP4A strongly advocates for a diplomacy-first approach to addressing our national security challenges, and we are heartened to see the Senate embrace that approach.

However, we also have concerns that should be addressed before this legislation becomes law.

Foreign Policy for America notes with concern that while this legislation rightly supports diplomacy as a tool for addressing China’s growing influence, the legislation also commits to deploying new U.S. troops and expanding US military goals in the Indo-Pacific region. Some of our greatest foreign policy challenges, chief among them combatting climate change, will require increased international coordination and cooperation if we hope to make meaningful progress. That requires a cautious balance between enabling the defense of U.S. allies from military threats and avoiding costly and unnecessary military escalation.

The Strategic Competition Act also contains a provision with consequences that will extend far beyond the U.S.-China relationship. In an effort to establish oversight over international agreements, it places burdensome requirements on diplomats that will tie their hands and compromise their ability to negotiate on behalf of the American people. These requirements have the potential to handcuff America’s negotiators and force more obligations onto our military. The expansive scope of the requirements could open up sensitive diplomatic negotiations to partisan game playing.

“We applaud the Senate for taking action to invest in the health of the U.S. workforce and our capacity to out-innovate and out-compete China economically. That’s the first key to the future,” said Foreign Policy for America Executive Director Andrew Albertson. “But the second key will be our ability to combat the climate crisis, and that will require urgent diplomatic efforts – not a cold war mentality that imagines our military can solve every problem. As they consider this legislation, and the future of the U.S.-China relationship, we hope the House of Representatives will re-emphasize the centrality of addressing the climate crisis, our country’s greatest geopolitical and geoeconomic challenge, and empower America’s diplomats to secure our interests.”