House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced a new "China Task Force" on Thursday that will work to develop legislative policies to curtail Chinese influence.

Why it matters: The global coronavirus pandemic has made it more apparent "for the need for a national strategy to deal with China, McCarthy said. The committee of 15 Republicans was originally supposed to include Democrats, but the party reportedly withdrew without explanation in February.

  • Sources told the Washington Post's Josh Rogin that there was at first a dispute among Democrats over who would be on the committee, but they later decided not to participate at all because the China issue has become too politicized in the coronavirus era.
  • “We are very cognizant of the need to hold China accountable for its actions,” a senior Democratic aide told the Post. “But to the extent this is going to be the Trump administration’s scapegoat for its utter failure, we are not going to go along with that.”

The big picture: The coronavirus crisis is threatening the bipartisan consensus that the U.S. needs a China policy that acknowledges Beijing's hard authoritarian turn and the serious challenge China's growing power presents to U.S. interests.

Details: The task force will work to develop a legislative strategy regarding China's influence inside the U.S., export control, foreign investment screening, presence in American universities and more.

  • Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, will serve as chairman of the task force.
  • Other members include Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

Go deeper: D.C.'s bipartisan China consensus may be unraveling

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