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Senators Rubio and Cortez-Masto. Photos: Getty Images

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada have introduced bipartisan legislation to uncover Chinese political influence campaigns in the U.S. This is the second China-related bill Rubio has introduced in two days.

The big picture: As Chinese President Xi Jinping lays out his vision to take China to superpower status, Congress is accelerating its campaign against Beijing. Just this month, lawmakers have passed legislation punishing Chinese phone maker ZTE, and they're pursuing increased review of foreign investment in U.S. tech.

"For a long time there was sort of a bipartisan consensus that we didn't like everything China did, but once China got rich and prosperous, they would start to see the benefit of playing by the rules that the world created after World War II ... In the last couple of years, it has become clear that China doesn't intend to do that."
— Rubio in interview with Axios

The details: The proposed legislation would require the State Department and the Director of National Intelligence to organize an interagency task force to compile an unclassified report on Chinese influence operations in the U.S. and in certain ally nations (to be determined by the DNI). That includes the Chinese Communist Party's efforts to manipulate the press, influence academic institutions and coerce companies. A similar bill was introduced in the House earlier this month.

  • If the intelligence is declassified, "I think people will be surprised at some of the places in which China is playing a role," Rubio tells Axios.
  • Rubio cites the Washington Post's partnership with China Daily, state-run media, and the network of over 100 Beijing-backed and funded Confucius Institutes — which teach Chinese language and culture at American universities and have long been criticized for spreading Communist Party views and censoring speakers who are critical of the Party — as two examples of influence operations.
  • Flashback: This bill is loosely based on a 1985 law that required the State Department to issue an annual report on “Soviet and Communist Disinformation and Press Manipulation.”

Go deeper

Inflation threatens Latinos' buying power

Expand chart
Data: Hispanic Index of Consumer Sentiment; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Latinos in the U.S. are less optimistic about the economy than they were a year ago as inflation threatens to cut into their buying power.

Why it matters: Latinos have been economic growth drivers for the past decade, opening new businesses at faster rates than other groups and increasing their homeownership rates. The group's overall output would make them the seventh-largest GDP in the world if they were a country.

First look: Frontline Dems seek cover with bipartisan police bill

Rep. Josh Gottheimer. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Moderate Frontline Democrats facing tough reelection fights are teaming up with House Republicans on a bill that would effectively help fund the police, according to a copy of the bill text obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: One of Republicans' core and most effective campaign attacks to date is their messaging around progressive rhetoric to "defund the police." Moderate Democrats have long tried to dodge that narrative, acknowledging its political peril despite their support for broader police reform.

Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The U.S. Omicron wave may be peaking, but now COVID deaths are climbing as cases continue to soar in most of the country.

The big picture: Omicron's stranglehold in the U.S. started about a month ago. Its death toll — while almost certain to be smaller than previous waves of the pandemic — is only now starting to take hold, and deaths will likely continue to rise for several weeks.