By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly backed legislation on Tuesday that would require U.S. companies to notify federal agencies of investments in Chinese technologies such as semiconductors and artificial intelligence.
The 100-member Senate backed the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by 91 to 6. The NDAA sets policy for the Department of Defense and is expected to become law later this year.
The desire for a hard line on China is one of the few truly bipartisan sentiments in the divided U.S. Congress, and lawmakers have introduced dozens of bills seeking to address competition with China’s communist government and industries.
The amendment is a version of the Outbound Investment Transparency Act, offered by Democratic Senator Bob Casey and Republican John Cornyn to address the risks of U.S. investment going to foreign adversaries like China.
“We need this type of outbound investment notification to understand just how much… critical technology we are transferring to our adversaries via these capital flows. With this information in hand, we can begin to take control of our economic future,” Casey said in remarks urging senators to support the amendment.
Unlike a version of the legislation the senators introduced in 2021 that failed to become law, the latest measure requires notification of some outbound investments, rather than review or prohibition of certain deals, and targets fewer industries.
The Senate also passed, by a vote of 91 to 7, an amendment to the NDAA boosting federal reviews of foreign purchases of U.S. farmland and, in some cases, barring Chinese, Russian, Iranian or North Korean purchases of U.S. farmland.
The final form of the NDAA, which authorizes $886 billion in defense spending, will not be determined until later this year.
The Senate is expected to pass its version, including amendments, this week. The Senate bill must then be reconciled with a bill passed in the House of Representatives earlier this month. That compromise measure must pass both chambers and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Jamie Freed)