Congressional scrutiny of the U.S. relationship with China marched forward this week as Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reintroduced a new and expanded version of the National Critical Capabilities Defense Act (NCCDA)—legislation to create a national security review process for “outbound” transactions by U.S. companies investing overseas.
The bill adds both breadth and specificity to legislation introduced last June. While our colleagues have detailed the major provisions of the previous version, the new NCCDA differs in several important respects.
First, the bill expands the list of U.S. industries deemed “critical sectors” subject to the notification and review process to include “active pharmaceutical ingredients” and “automobile manufacturing,” and gives the executive branch authority to expand the list further. The new bill, however, does not add any additional definitions for these terms, nor does it further define the critical sectors that appeared in the 2022 version, including semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging, large capacity batteries, critical minerals and materials, artificial intelligence, and quantum information science and technology.
Second, the bill creates a judicial review procedure for actions taken by the executive branch under the NCCDA, allowing aggrieved parties to bring suit directly in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Finally, the legislation would increase the President’s role over outbound investment reviews by making the White House itself the lead on the new outbound investment review committee—the Committee for National Critical Capabilities. Previous versions had placed the U.S. Trade Representative in the lead role.
Last year’s NCCDA drew broad stakeholder opposition and did not progress. The fate of this year’s version is uncertain, but it is clear that the bill is part of a larger story on how the Congress and the Administration are grappling with economic and national security concerns related to China. We expect a plethora of additional related bills and administration actions, including the anticipated Biden Administration executive order on outbound investment reviews and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) announcement that comprehensive, bipartisan legislation addressing the U.S. relationship with China is forthcoming this year.