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Andrew Harnik / AP

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told Trump in a letter this week that "to help rein in North Korea's threatening and destabilizing behavior," you need to pressure China economically, per Reuters.

It's the first time Schumer has asked Trump to go after Chinese investment in the U.S., WSJ reports.

Schumer wants Trump to suspend approval of "all mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. by Chinese entities" through his authority via the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which approves acquisitions of U.S. companies by foreign entities. Congress and the White House are already planning to work with CFIUS, per National Counterintelligence Executive William Evanina.

Context: China is North Korea's largest trade partner and as North Korea gets closer and closer to being able to hit the U.S. with a long-range missile, the pressure is mounting to come up with a strategy to curtail the tensions. But one of China's top economic officials recently said U.S.-Chinese trade is "unrelated" to North Korea.

The other side of Capitol Hill: Republican John Cornyn said that's not what CFIUS is supposed to be used for — it "is a national security vehicle" to make sure other countries "don't steal our cutting-edge technology." CFIUS experts told Reuters Schumer's plan would be a reach for CFIUS' mandate, but technically legal, since usually CFIUS operates on a case by case basis, not a broad ban.

Get smart thanks to Axios' Dan Primack:

  • "Some Chinese regulators might actually be kind of grateful for this potential move Schumer proposed, given that it's been pressuring many of its own local conglomerates to stop buying foreign assets. But it does seem odd to punish U.S. businesses or shareholders over how China is handling North Korea, particularly those who likely would then be blocked in return from buying Chinese companies."
  • "CFIUS already has been pretty stingy this year" in granting approvals, sometimes acting so slowly deals collapse, like in the case of the Los Angeles-based company, Global Eagle Entertainment, and its potential $416 million investment from China's HNA Group, which was canceled after CFIUS approval did not pull through by an agreed-upon date.

What's next: Trump could make an "aggressive" announcement against China over theft of intellectual property as soon as this week, as Axios' Jonathan Swan reported. And although that announcement may be unrelated to the CFIUS debate, it would show signaling from the White House that they're interested in harping on unfair trade deals.

Go deeper

36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden plan expected to include at least $500B for climate

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House is privately telling lawmakers the climate portion of President Biden's roughly $2 trillion social spending plan is "mostly settled" and will likely cost more than $500 billion, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: A pricetag of $500-555 billion is a huge number and, if it holds, would likely be the single biggest component of the sweeping package. It also isn't far off from the roughly $600 billion proposed when the bill was expected to cost $3.5 trillion.

44 mins ago - World

U.S. presses Gulf countries to help resolve Sudan coup crisis

Jake Sullivan briefs the press. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The Biden administration has asked its partners in the Gulf and elsewhere to press the Sudanese generals who carried out a coup on Monday to release captives including Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and to reinstate the civilian government, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has limited influence over coup leader Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and other military leaders, many of whom have close ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Higher prices are the new norm, with no end in sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies are making money at record rates thanks in part to customers who are willing to pay higher prices.

Why it matters: In order to keeping that corporate profitability streak going, shoppers should expect sticker prices to stay high or become more expensive well into 2022. Fewer promotions and shallower discounts will also become the norm as inventory levels remain low.

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