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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, speaks to Rep. Jim McGovern. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House on Tuesday evening unanimously voted to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

Driving the news: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) reached a compromise agreement earlier on Tuesday on the final legislative text of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed for the first time Tuesday that President Biden will sign the bill.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would send the bill to the Senate for “swift action.”

What they're saying: "We have been clear that we share Congress’ view that action must be taken to hold the [People's Republic of China] accountable for its human rights abuses and to address forced labor in Xinjiang," Psaki said at a press briefing.

  • "We’ve already taken action on the global stage in that regard, leading an effort at the G7, putting in place financial sanctions and Global Magnitsky visa restrictions, and I think that’s evidence of our commitment to this."

Why it matters: The deal marks a major breakthrough in the bipartisan push to punish the Chinese government for what the U.S. has described as a genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.

The big picture: The bill would ban all imports from the northwest region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines with "clear and convincing evidence" that the products were not made with forced labor.

  • Major corporations like Nike and Coca Cola have lobbied against the bill, which would have far-reaching consequences for U.S. supply chains deeply integrated with Chinese industry.
  • Xinjiang also accounts for nearly 50% of the world's polysilicon, a raw material used to manufacture solar panels.

Between the lines: The Biden administration has been outspoken about China's campaign of mass detention, surveillance, forced labor and forced sterilization of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, but had previously declined to throw its weight behind the bill.

  • The administration has vehemently denied allegations from Republicans that officials like climate envoy John Kerry have lobbied against the bill to ensure the U.S. can cooperate with China on climate change.
  • Press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated on Tuesday that the administration had been providing "technical assistance" to ensure the legislation could be implemented.

What to watch: The compromise version of the bill must be passed again in the House and Senate before it can be sent to President Biden's desk for a signature.

  • The Senate unanimously passed Rubio's version of the bill in July, while the House voted 428-1 to pass McGovern's last week.

This story has been updated with House passage of the bill.

Go deeper

Nov 16, 2021 - World

Olympics sponsors caught between U.S. and China

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies that do business in China — especially Olympics sponsors — are concerned Beijing will use the 2022 Winter Games as a loyalty test.

Why it matters: China's leaders have become adept at silencing criticism from U.S. companies that might otherwise condemn the country's human rights record — and the Chinese government has been able to host prestigious global events like the Olympics while committing rights violations with impunity.

House passes voting rights bill

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed voting rights legislation, approving a measure that combines the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Amendment Act.

Driving the news: The package will be sent to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle because of Republican opposition. Democrats are considering changing the Senate's filibuster rules to pass the bill.

Updated Jan 14, 2022 - World

HRW criticizes Biden over "mixed signals" on human rights

Photo: Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Human Rights Watch criticized President Biden and other leaders of democratic nations for sending "mixed signals" on human rights in its annual World Report published on Thursday, saying they "are not meeting the challenges before them."

Why it matters: Though Biden pledged to put human rights at the center of his foreign policy, HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth wrote that weapon sales to repressive governments and public reticence on certain human rights violations place those promises in question.