The COVID-19 pandemic has been what I call a great awakening when it comes to the vulnerabilities in our supply chain. It’s clear now, maybe more than ever, that the United States has become too dependent on Communist China for items like personal protective equipment, prescription drugs, and other essential medical supplies. We need to fix that.
While China is a trade partner for many of Iowa’s farmers and producers, there is no doubt we can find ways to make and manufacture goods and supplies right here in the United States. And that’s what I’m working to do: bring manufacturing home and help create even more jobs for hardworking Iowans.
One way to do this is by cutting red tape for businesses that want to relocate from a foreign country, like China, to the United States. Right now, I’m working on a bill that will waive the tax penalties for manufacturing and medical supply companies that choose to move to America in order to create more jobs here. I have also demanded the Treasury Department investigate how Chinese companies are avoiding taxes that U.S. businesses have to pay. If we can incentivize folks to create products and manufacture critical goods at home instead of in China, then we can better ensure the security of our supply chains.
During my military service, including as a logistics battalion commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, I learned firsthand the importance of securing the defense supply chain. We cannot continue to rely on our adversaries, like China, for critically important national security materials. That’s why in this year’s annual defense bill I made it a priority to boost support for university research in places like Iowa to ensure we can make and manufacture metals and materials here at home. This will help make sure China doesn’t corner the world market on key materials, and gives our allies options to buy metals and materials from the United States, instead of the communist regime. And a great bonus, it saves your hard-earned tax dollars.
Iowans know that China will do anything to get a leg up on their competition. Folks from all corners of the state have long told me their concerns with China stealing our intellectual property and reneging on their trade commitments. It’s only been in recent years, under this administration, that we’ve finally seen someone stand up and fight back. At nearly every farmer roundtable or discussion with Iowa’s producers and manufacturers, Iowans have told me how much they appreciate this president standing up for them and pushing back on the years of bad actions by the Communist Party.
At this crucial juncture, we cannot let up.
During COVID-19 we’ve seen things escalate, to the level of China withholding information about the pandemic and blatant theft of our technology with intent to erode our nation’s military leadership. Earlier this year, the leader of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Davidson, testified before Congress that he believed China was “stealing technology in just about every domain and trying to use it to their advantage.” Folks, the fight against China is far from over.
Whether they’re stealing sensitive military secrets or letting people die to avoid taking responsibility for the spread of COVID-19, China continues to disrespect the rule of law. Why then, would we reward them by manufacturing medical supplies and defense materials in their country, only to boost their economy at our expense?
Iowans across the state have told me that they agree: the United States needs to decrease our dependence on the Chinese Communist Party. Yes, we can and should continue trading important agriculture products like pork and soybeans. But, at the same time, we should bring jobs back to Iowa, and across the United States, and ensure our medical and defense supply chains remain strong and secure. This will only serve to help our economy and improve our national security.
Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.