U.S. Rep. John Katko and a group of moderate House Republicans joined with a coalition of moderate Democrats for a meeting Wednesday with a top national security official at the White House.
Katko, R-Camillus, who is one of the co-chairs of the Tuesday Group, which is comprised of about 50 Republicans who are considered to be among the more moderate members of their caucus, led the GOP delegation. U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who co-chairs the Blue Dog Coalition within the House Democratic Caucus, led her party's members.
The classified meeting with Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, focused on the United States' policy toward China. The discussion is part of a series of briefings led by Murphy, D-Florida, and Katko titled "National Security in the Shadow of COVID-19." The goal, according to a news release from Murphy's office, is to "help members of Congress better understand the potential impact of COVID-19 on the international security environment and on U.S. foreign policy interests."
In the two prior briefings, the delegation heard from Dr. Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
Murphy and Katko said in a joint statement that the discussion with Pottinger about U.S. policy toward China and how it's affected by the pandemic was "very constructive."
"We regard the U.S.-China relationship as the most important bilateral relationship in the world, and we are troubled by the conduct of the Chinese Community Party across a range of issue areas, from foreign and defense policy, to trade, to human rights, to its efforts to exploit the COVID pandemic to advance its interests at the expense of the U.S. and our allies," Murphy and Katko said.
"We believe the United States will be in the strongest position to protect our national interests and to influence CCP behavior if we approach Beijing with a strong bipartisan front, rather than divided along partisan lines."
Other members of the moderate groups attended the meeting, including U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a Utica Democrat who is also a co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition.
Brindisi and Katko have partnered on several issues over the past two years. They were recently praised for their work on major conservation legislation.
After the meeting on China policy, Brindisi said that national security and the COVID-19 response shouldn't be a partisan issue.
"Politics should stop at the water's edge with the Chinese Communist Party's behavior throughout the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, we need a bipartisan and thoughtful response to ensure America and our allies can work together to emerge from this crisis safe, secure and as global leaders."
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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