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AFP Key Vote Alert on H.R. 8038, the 21st Century Peace Through Strength Act

Apr 20, 2024 by AFP

Dear Representatives,

On behalf of Americans for Prosperity and the millions of activists we represent in all 50 states, I write to applaud the House for taking up strong measures to counter foreign adversary-controlled applications, as done through H.R. 8038, the 21st Century Peace through Strength Act, and to reiterate our support for that effort. However, we also wanted to take this opportunity to express our concerns with some of the other provisions of the bill.

Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act (Division D)

As we previously stated in our Key Vote Alert for H.R. 7521, there is mounting evidence TikTok is a real national security threat. We would never want the U.S. federal government to have the power to censor, surveil, and manipulate Americans – we absolutely cannot permit that abuse of power by the Chinese government through TikTok. Applications controlled by ByteDance, including TikTok, serve as conduits for potential surveillance and manipulation of American citizens, posing significant risks to data security and public discourse. To address this threat, the proposed legislation adopts a two-pronged approach:

  • First, by restricting app store availability and web hosting services for ByteDance-controlled applications, including TikTok, unless they sever ties with entities under foreign adversary control as defined by Congress.
  • Second, the bill offers ByteDance a defined window to divest, with exemptions available upon completing a qualified divestment.

There have been small but key changes to the legislation since its recent House floor passage that strengthen the underlying bill’s likelihood of surviving judicial scrutiny and extend the length of time given to ByteDance to divest. This legislation represents a sophisticated and targeted response to a genuine national security threat while avoiding unnecessary entanglements or repercussions for tech platforms and companies. We were thrilled to see this legislation pass the House last time by such strong margins and are pleased that it now can move quickly to become law.

Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity (REPO) for Ukrainians Act (Division B)
The REPO for Ukrainians Act would allow the President to seize already-frozen Russian sovereign assets, a drastic precedent which could have catastrophic consequences for the United States. Confiscating Russian assets will not change Russia’s behavior nor impose any additional costs Moscow has not already suffered since their assets were frozen in 2022. Seizing frozen assets removes leverage Ukraine and the West have to bring Russia to the negotiating table, giving Moscow less to lose from continuing to pursue their war of aggression against Ukraine.

Setting the precedent of seizing a country’s assets that the United States is not at war would send shockwaves throughout the global economy by undermining other country’s confidence in buying U.S. dollars, undermining our currency’s position as the global reserve currency. Confiscating Russian assets would also put trillions of U.S. private and sovereign assets abroad at risk for decades to come. Russia would not hesitate to seize U.S. public and private assets in its territory, while rivals like China would feel empowered to conduct seizures of their own in future foreign policy disagreements in decades to come.

Across several divisions, the 21st Century Peace Through Strength Act adds to the staggering growth of U.S. sanctions in recent years, imposing new restrictions on Russian, Iranian, Syrian, and other targets. The instinct to punish behavior the United States opposes through sanctions is understandable, but Congress overuses this tool, blunting sanctions’ effectiveness for future situations when they may matter most.

Sanctions have historically only been effective when coordinated multilaterally, tied to behavior that adversaries can ultimately be expected to change, and paired with a credible expectation that they will be lifted should adversaries alter their actions. The sanctions in this bill are largely punitive and unlikely to garner buy-in from major global economies. At best, these sanctions are unlikely to achieve their goals. At worst, these measures risk accelerating the fragmentation of the global financial system as countries work to reduce their exposure to future U.S. sanctions. The more we overuse sanctions, the weaker a tool they become in foreign policy crises involving vital national interests.

Again, this is a commendable effort to combat the threat of foreign adversary-controlled applications, but due to our concerns about the other provisions of this legislation, we must remain neutral during its consideration of the National Security Supplemental.


Brent Gardner

Chief Government Affairs Officer

Americans for Prosperity