The media has reported on various potential plans and ideas being discussed by lawmakers to further expand or improve the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s (CFIUS) scope and authorities. To date, no legislation has been introduced in Congress, and only few details about what has been proposed is publicly known. Based on media reports, below is summary what is known about the pending proposals:
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Senate Majority Whip and Chairman of the the Senate Committee on Finance’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness, is pursuing a plan that would:
- Heighten scrutiny on deals that involve individuals from a yet-to-be-written list of “countries of concern” that pose a military threat to the United States;
- Increase scrutiny on deals involving commercial technology that could have military applications; and
- Expand the types of transactions that fall under the purview of CFIUS. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader, is calling to expand the scope of CFIUS by requiring the committee to consider economic factors when assessing a deal.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has previously championed efforts to add the Department of Agriculture to the CFIUS’s review process.
Some Democratic senators have raised the potential conflict of interest that could arise if CFIUS is asked to review a transaction involving the Trump Organization. They could seek to introduce legislation to address this.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is conducting a review at the urging of a group of Republican House Members on whether CFIUS has the reach it needs to root out threats posed by potential state actors. This review could result in more ideas on how to reform the process.