A coalition of Democrats serving in the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party has requested to receive a classified intelligence briefing on “how the CCP and our foreign adversaries are leveraging current political dysfunction in the U.S. House of Representatives to discredit democracy globally.”
In a Monday letter addressed to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and CIA Director William Burns, Democrats expressed their concern that House Republicans’ inability to elect a House Speaker to replace Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) presents a national security threat.
Democrats want a briefing to explore what messaging the Chinese government and other American adversaries are promoting in response to Republican chaos around the Speakership and the party’s budgetary dispute that almost shut down the government last month. Democrats also want to know more about how this sort of messaging is distributed, what demographics have been targeted, and what governmental and economic models are being promoted as alternatives.
The letter cited recent articles published by English-language, CCP-controlled media citing the turmoil in Congress as evidence of the ineffectiveness of representative democracy. Democrats also noted a recent threat assessment conducted by the U.S. Intelligence Community which found evidence of efforts by China and Russia to extend their influence by sowing widespread doubt in democratic systems of government.
“[Monday] marks the 20th day in a row that the Speaker of the House position has been vacant, and we are 25 days away from our government’s funding expiring,” the group of Democrats wrote. “It is imperative that the United States understands the full extent to which the PRC and other foreign adversaries are exploiting the chaos and dysfunction of the U.S. Congress for their own gain: to promote authoritarian models of government internationally, to enhance their image as reliable economic and security partners, to harm our standing with our own allies and partners, and to sow discord in the United States and abroad.”
For nearly a month, House Republicans have been unable to elect a new Speaker after a small faction of the caucus succeeded in ousting McCarthy from the position. Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have both tried and failed to secure the gavel. As of Monday, nine new candidates have signaled their intent to seek the nomination.
It’s not only Democrats who see the dysfunction as a threat to the country’s standing on the international stage.
In an interview with ABC News, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) called the chaos one of the most “embarrassing” things he’s seen during his 10 terms in Congress.
McCaul says Republicans’ inability to select a Speaker is one of the most embarrassing things he’s seen and that it’s emboldening our adversaries pic.twitter.com/VDEQttu6oN
— Acyn (@Acyn) October 22, 2023
“I want a speaker in the chair so we can move forward and govern,” he said. “It’s too dangerous right now. The world’s on fire, this is so dangerous what we’re doing. And, most importantly, it’s embarrassing because it empowers and emboldens our adversaries like Chairman Xi who say democracy doesn’t work.”
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