Spy Scandal, Round One: Cox 428, China 0

  • Share
  • Read Later
"The Congress must be strong where the President has been weak," Tom DeLay snarled after the House of Representatives voted 428-0 to adopt a sheaf of the Cox report’s recommendations on keeping U.S. secrets out of the Chinese military. Most of the prescriptions passed today -- as an amendment to a $288 billion defense authorization bill -- were no-brainers, centered on tightening security at the country’s nuclear labs. But when GOPer Rep. Curt Weldon declares, "This amendment is not the end, it is just the beginning," some Democrats are worried that the rush to get tough on China will wind up steamrolling some legitimate -- and lucrative -- technology sales to the world’s largest emerging market.

For supporters of engagement, 428-0 is a scary number. But TIME congressional correspondent John Dickerson says this issue has its own set of checks and balances: the business lobby. "Republicans are eager to get restrictions passed to show they’re doing something the President wouldn’t -- but they’re not too eager," he says. "It’s not just Silicon Valley but all of the business community that’s worried about getting kept out of China, and they’re putting plenty of pressure on Republicans not to go too far." Likely scenario: More restrictions roll through the House and Senate in coming weeks -- and then quietly roll back when the heat’s off. "They’ll toughen restrictions, and then loosen them later," says Dickerson, "just like they’ve done before."