“The outbreak has taught us that the time has come to break away from dangerous aspects of the relationship. By mishandling and manipulating the crisis, China has revealed itself to be not worthy of our trust.”
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke on the Senate floor on America’s dangerous dependence on China.
He also discussed the need to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) legislation that was put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic.
Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“We have just voted on an amendment by Senator Lee, which passed overwhelmingly.
“As we in the Senate are working to defeat this invisible enemy, the coronavirus, we are also mindful that there are other real threats around the globe.
“That is why the amendment that we just passed was so important to be debated and discussed and dealt with--the bill that is on the floor--because the Senate is debating a bill to provide national security tools to our intelligence community.
“We want to make sure they have the right tools, the tools that work, that provide national security but also freedom for American citizens.
“Now, this is unfinished business because these tools under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act have been left on the shelf, expired now for nearly 2 months.
“Before Congress departed the Capitol due to the coronavirus, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to temporarily keep these authorities in place.
“The House Democrats left without acting on what the Senate had passed. Speaker Pelosi left town, and she left our national security frozen.
“Now, this week, Congress is going to pass a 3-year reauthorization of these authorities under FISA.
“These authorities are known as the business records provision, the roving wiretaps provision, and the lone wolf amendment.
“The business records provision, or section 215, as it is known, compels telecommunications companies to provide call records relevant to investigation.
“The roving wiretaps provision allows surveillance of multiple cellphones of an investigative target.
“This allows national security operators to keep up with a target, even as she or he goes through burner phones.
“The lone wolf amendment allows national security operators to investigate targets unaffiliated with a specific terrorist organization. That is why they are called lone wolves.
“Combined, these tools give the intelligence community and law enforcement important capabilities: to surveil bad actors, to get to them before they get to us, and to take apart their networks.
“Congress put these authorities in place after 9/11. They have been updated with broad bipartisan support numerous times.
“Importantly, the tools have helped keep our country safe and strong now for nearly 20 years after 9/11.
“There have been abuses of the FISA process unrelated to these provisions, which this bill also addresses.
“The bill puts in place safeguards to ensure FISA applications are accurate and complete, with multiple layers of approval before an application goes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
“The bill also makes the FISA process more accountable, from the Attorney General on down.
“Those who hide information, those who engage in misconduct, or those who disclose information will be met with prison time.
“The bill provides a greater role for Congress to make sure there are another set of eyes on FISA applications.
“All together, these are significant reforms that the Attorney General has said will protect against abuse and misuse in the future. He went on to say the bill deserved broad bipartisan support, and I agree.
“I also come to the floor today to discuss America's relationship with China. The coronavirus has made clear that our current relationship with China is built on a house of cards. It is simply too risky.
“We have to learn the lessons from this global pandemic. The outbreak has taught us that the time has come to break away from dangerous aspects of the relationship.
“By mishandling and manipulating the crisis, China has revealed itself to be not worthy of our trust.
“Let me be clear. The Chinese people are not to blame for any of this. The people of China have also suffered tremendously. It is the Chinese Communist Party that is at fault.
“The virus could have been contained had it not been for the Chinese Government's unscrupulous cover-up.
“China knew the risk months before the rest of the world; yet Chinese communist leaders destroyed key evidence, they underreported the number of coronavirus cases, and they misled the world about its deadly, rapid spread.
“In fact, Chinese leaders silenced the heroic Chinese doctor, Dr. Li, who tried to sound the alarm and who later died from the virus.
“China's deceit doesn't stop there. China has repeatedly denied U.S. officials access to the country to uncover the truth about the deadly disease.
“Meanwhile, the Chinese Government continues to engage in a disinformation campaign to try to avoid blame.
“With this track record, China cannot continue to control international groups like the World Health Organization.
“The United States is the World Health Organization's single largest financial supporter. Yet, from the start, the World Health Organization blindly accepted Chinese leaders' false reporting, and they understated the threat.
“Today, America knows how dangerous it is to depend on China not just for information but also for essential equipment, for products, for materials, for minerals, and certainly for medicine.
“China didn't warn the world when the outbreak began. Instead, China secretly hoarded masks and protective gear. China knew that global shortages would soon follow.
“Then China threatened to cut off lifesaving antibiotics and other critical drug exports to the United States.
“The virus should have been contained in Wuhan, China. Tens and tens of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of people worldwide have died as a result of China's failure.
“Looking forward, America should focus on priorities right now to protect ourselves from future health crises.
“No. 1, not again, not ever will America rely on information from international health organizations.
“We should set up direct bilateral health relationships with other countries. U.S. personnel on the ground must include monitoring of health data in their national security determinations.
“No. 2, not again, not ever will we let people travel to the United States from countries where there is a major outbreak.
“We should restrict travel early on, just as President Trump did with regard to China.
“No. 3, not again, not ever will America be without an early warning system.
“Our gateway cities, in particular, need better monitoring and surveillance of health issues when people enter the United States.
“No. 4, not again, not ever will America rely on critical health equipment from China.
“We should encourage U.S. companies to create American and Western supply chains. That way our frontline workers have what they need in the time of crisis.
“No. 5, not again, not ever will we be exclusively sourced for critical drugs from China. We should diversify supply and bring home as much of our supply chain as possible.
“No. 6, not again, not ever will our hospitals be taken for granted. They should be classified as critical infrastructure and our healthcare workers—our nurses, our lab technicians, our first responders, our doctors.
“Critical infrastructure and frontline workers should be properly resourced around our Nation.
“No. 7, not again, not ever will Americans rely solely on the Centers for Disease Control for testing. President Trump proved that when called upon, our private sector has an incredible multiplier effect.
“No. 8, not again, not ever will we allow public misrepresentation and confusion concerning an urgent health issue.
“The American people deserve timely, credible, and accurate information--the same as for tornadoes, hurricanes, and other disasters.
“No. 9, not again, not ever will we be dependent on China for trade and goods, especially not for critical infrastructure and technology.
“No. 10, not again, not ever will a previous administration leave an incoming administration without an updated, forward-looking bipartisan policy and preparedness program on pandemics and without a pathway for the products and equipment needed to go along with it.
“By taking these sensible steps, we will be able to protect the health and the well being of the American people.
“These 10 priorities will make America and Americans stronger, safer, and more secure.”