- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A bipartisan congressional commission on China has been taken over by Democrats and stopped work on most issues related to Beijing’s military, a public watchdog group said.

“The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) has diverted from its original mission of a bipartisan commission to become a lobbying arm of the AFL-CIO, usurping 3 million (in) taxpayer dollars,” said Sarah Smith, director of the K Street Project.

The project’s 10-page report on the USCC urges Congress’ Republican leaders to take action to balance the political makeup of the panel by appointing new commissioners, or to “defund” it, cutting off the annual $3 million budget.

“The Congress should … cut out the AFL-CIO agenda subjects like the trade deficit and currency-manipulation issues, so the USCC will becomes a true Security Review Commission and not a lobbying arm of the AFL-CIO,” the report says.

The report also says Congress should restore the security requirements of the commission so that it conducts more research into Chinese military issues.

Commission spokeswoman Kathy Michels had no immediate comment on the report, which is due to be released this week.

The 12-member commission was set up by the Defense Authorization Act of 2001 as a bipartisan effort to review the national-security aspects of ties between China and the United States.

However, since 2003, the commission has been co-opted by C. Richard D’Amato, the current chairman and a former aide to Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, the report states.

The report said the commission’s focus was changed in 2003 legislation that eliminated requirements for studying Chinese military development, Beijing’s acquisition of advanced weaponry, and U.S. technology transfers that boosted the Chinese military.

“With the elimination of these areas of jurisdiction, from 2003 on, the USCC Democrats were free to pursue their AFL-CIO goals as long as they promised to hold one hearing a year on the Republican priorities of military-security issues,” the report says.

Of the 11 hearings held or scheduled by the commission this year, only one is focused on Chinese military issues.

According to the report, the commission promotes many of the labor movement’s policies through hearings and testimony from trade union officials, while criticizing Bush administration policies.

The K Street Project describes itself as a nonpartisan group that studies the politics and backgrounds of lobbyists, associations and industries. It is affiliated with Americans for Tax Reform, headed by conservative activist Grover Norquist.

The commission in particular has opposed the Bush administration’s policy on the trade deficit and efforts to press Beijing to revalue its currency, the report said.

The report said the staff of the commission is made up solely of Democrats. “The staff members on the commission only reflect the liberal partisanship of the commissioners themselves,” the report said, describing the commission as “heavily Democratic, with only a few strong Republicans.”

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