Mnuchin Repeats Support for Bill Tightening Foreign Investment

(Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reiterated the administration’s support for bipartisan legislation to tighten scrutiny over foreign investment in the U.S. and attach it to a must-pass defense spending bill.

“We strongly support Congress’ bipartisan effort to strengthen and modernize the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’ review process and its inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act,” Mnuchin said in testimony to the House Financial Services Committee in Washington on Thursday. “The administration is pleased to work with members to maintain our open investment environment while ensuring that certain transactions are reviewed for national security purposes.”

There’s a rare bipartisan effort in Congress to expand oversight by the inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or Cfius.

President Donald Trump last month endorsed expanding the powers of the Cfius panel over reviewing investments from abroad. He turned to Cfius over an earlier plan to invoke emergency powers to impose sweeping new restrictions on Chinese investments in key sectors.

Bills pending in the House and Senate would expand the reach of Cfius by making more transactions subject to mandatory review. The Senate bill would expand Cfius jurisdiction to investments that exceed a passive role in critical technology sectors, while allowing the committee to exempt some countries.

The House bill would expand Cfius reviews to minority stakes by companies from a blacklist of countries of special concern. China and Russia would be expected to end up on that list. The Cfius legislation may be enacted as soon as the end of this month as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act.

Treasury is expected to hire at least a dozen people for Cfius, which is housed in Treasury’s international affairs unit.

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