The Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party

In the beginning of the tumultuous 118th Congress, House Leaders formed the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the Unites States and the Chinese Communist Party and selected Congressman Mike Gallagher to serve as its first Chair. There was broad bipartisan agreement in the formation of this Committee (the resolution passed with a vote of 365-65). The establishment of the Committee was seen as a way for lawmakers to regain some control over China policymaking has largely represented an exception to the partisan discord so prevalent on Capital Hill. 

The Committee serves primarily an oversight function, with no ability to pass legislation but it is imbued with the power to compel the production of testimony and documents.1 Specifically, the Committee’s rules state, “The power to authorize and issue subpoenas pursuant to clause 2(m) of House rule XI is hereby delegated to the Chair.” Intentionally, the Committee must rely on the power of persuasion to convince other committees to work with them in order to legislate.”

Under Chairman Gallagher’s leadership, the Committee has been active, launching bipartisan investigations against several global companies with ties to China. Most notably, the House passed a resolution to compel the sale of social media giant TikTok or face a ban.  In addition, the Committee took public positions that have targeted companies with significant commercial ties to China, alleging that these organizations are essentially agents of the Chinese government or affiliated with the Chinese military.

Chairman Mike Gallagher Announced Resignation

Surprising everyone inside the beltway, just one week after the consequential vote to approve a ban on TikTok, on March 22, 2024, Gallagher announced his intention to retire from Congress before the expiration of his term. Gallagher, a combat veteran who served two tours in Iraq, was regarded as a rising star in the Republican Party and his retirement leaves Republicans with the slimmest of majorities, 217-213, with just one vote to spare on passing legislation.2 Gallagher’s final day in Congress is April 19, 2024.

Who is Chairman John Moolenaar

House Speaker Mike Johnson selected five term Congressman John Moolenaar from west-central Michigan to replace Gallagher. Congressional insiders expect the new chairman to largely retain the Committee’s majority staff, to ensure continuity of operations. Prior to serving in Congress, Moolenaar was a chemist at Dow Chemical. In addition to his new Chairmanship, Moolenaar also serves on the House Committee on Appropriations, where he sits on the Subcommittees on Agriculture; Labor Health and Human Services, and Education; and Financial Services and General Government.

Given his Michigan roots, expect to see Moolenaar focus on supply chain issues impacting the auto industry, as well as the Biden Administration’s push toward vehicle electrification, led by the Environmental Protection Agency.  The new Chairman previously suggested that EPA’s proposal “actually enables China's strength in the automotive area with respect to battery technology” and that electric vehicles “rel[y] too heavily on minerals mined or processed in China.” In a 2023 press conference he said:

“I do think one of the reasons our automotive companies are leasing technology from China and building, you know, a business plan based on materials that China is dominating is because there's this urgency that is created more by the government forcing them in that direction.”

Before serving as Chair of the Select Committee, Moolenaar already focused on the automotive sector. He led an effort to reverse the approval of Michigan state legislators for a $2.36 billion electric vehicle plant in the Green Charter Township, which was due $175 million in state tax incentives, despite the promise of 2,000 local jobs. He also succeeded in inserting language to appropriations legislation that would prohibit the Department of Energy from awarding any research funding or contracts to companies that partner with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and other adversaries of the United States. Finally, Moolenaar also teamed up with Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Illinois, to introduce legislation aimed at preventing a battery parts manufacturer from receiving federal tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act because its parent company is a Chinese firm. As the Chairman, he will have the staff and the bully pulpit to focus on these and other issues at the top of his agenda.

Will Moolenaar and Krishnamoorthi Find Common Ground?

It is likely that the Select Committee will continue to act in a bipartisan manner. However, too sharp a focus on Chinese ties to the energy transition could risk the bipartisan cooperation of Ranking Member Krishnamoorthi, a supporter of the Biden Administration’s GHG regulations. In prior remarks, Krishnamoorthi suggested a path for bipartisan cooperation, focusing in on critical minerals:

“So, for instance, in the battery space, you know, it's obvious right now that China has a choke hold with regard to certain key elements of the battery supply chain. They control 90% of the processing of critical minerals. Think about that. Even minerals that are mined in the United States are sent to China to be processed. And then to be brought back to be inserted into batteries.”

Will the Committee Be Reauthorized in the 119th?

While it is too soon to know who will govern the U.S. House of Representatives in the next election, some political prognosticators think that a Democratic majority would continue the Committee’s mandate: “It would be an extraordinary first act for a new Democrat majority to abolish a committee like this, that was created in a bipartisan way and has functioned in a bipartisan way…, it’s produced ideas and legislation that’s passed in a bipartisan way.”


In summary, we expect Chairman Moolenaar to continue the aggressive oversight into the alleged influence the Chinese Communist Party has over companies that do business in the United States and to do so in a bipartisan way. However, we also think it is likely that the Committee will have a renewed focus on supply chain and critical mineral issues, given the Chairman’s home state interests.

1 House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, Committee Rule VI.
2 Assuming all Members participation, two Republican defections on legislation would lead to a 215-215 tie.