Last week, Sen. Angus King (I) announced that he intends to push Congressional leaders to include a provision in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would help prevent foreign entities — and the Chinese government in particular — from obtaining access to sensitive American technologies.
Sen. King explained in a November 21 press release that he — alongside a number of his colleagues — hopes to convince members of the Congressional leadership to include language in this year’s NDAA addressing the acquisition of “dual-use” American technologies by our adversaries as a result of business investments.
Dual-use technologies are those which have uses in both commercial and military contexts. For example, night vision technology has relevant applications in both civilian and military products.
In the letter, King advocates for the federal government to use the NDAA to adopt a screening program for certain outbound investments in order to “ensure sensitive technologies with dual-use applications are not further ceded to adversaries.”
While a number of strategies have been developed and implemented to help prevent the theft of such technologies by foreign governments, King and his colleagues assert that “none of the tools currently at the government’s disposal…fully address the specific risk posed by the transfer of U.S. capital and know-how to our adversaries.”
“The last thing we should be doing is facilitating technology that could one day be used against us, whether through espionage at home or against or servicemen and women deployed to fight for their nation,” King wrote in the letter.
At the close of the letter, King and his Congressional colleagues urge that “robust language” addressing “the threat posed by outbound investments in countries like [China]” be included in the 2024 NDAA.
King’s letter was co-signed by eight Republicans and ten Democrats.
The NDAA is a piece of legislation passed each year by Congress to update the policies and organization of defense agencies, as well as to provide guidance as to how military funding may be spent.
As the end of the year approaches, lawmakers are now sprinting to finalize the legislation which began to take shape back in July.
King’s proposal is just one of many that congressmen are pushing to have included in the $886 billion NDAA.
For example, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has advocated for lawmakers to use the bill as an opportunity to expand compensation eligibility for victims of U.S. radiation testing.
Legislators on the other side of the aisle have also gone to bat for certain aspects of the NDAA.
For instance, members of the House Democratic Women’s Caucus have pushed to have a provision removed from the bill that would rescind a Pentagon policy that allows for the reimbursement of service members’ travel expenses if they are unable to access abortions in states where they are stationed.
Democrat lawmakers have also taken issue with a Republican-backed portion of the bill codifying a newly enforced Pentagon ban on drag performances.
In addition to these more controversial clauses, the NDAA also includes some more straightforward policies, such as a 5.2 percent raise for federal workers and members of the military.
As of now, it still remains to be seen what provisions will and will not make it into the final version of the NDAA as lawmakers battle it out over the course of the coming weeks.