Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., questions Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor as he testifies before a House Committee on Homeland Security meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 22, 2020, on the national response to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., questions Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor as he testifies before a House Committee on Homeland Security meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 22, 2020, on the national response to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small wants to make sure China isn’t taking advantage of the United States during the pandemic. 

Torres Small said she supports new legislation that would require the federal government to identify and combat efforts by the Chinese government to exploit the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to reports from CNN, defense officials are concerned that China is using the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on U.S businesses to gain stakes in important industries. This comes as the U.S. economy has taken a historic downturn, as businesses scramble to stay afloat during the pandemic. 

“As we fight to save American lives and rebuild our economy, no country should be allowed to exploit the pandemic for its own advantage, yet reports indicate that China has done exactly that,” Torres Small said in a statement.

“This is a time when countries should be coming together to fight the spread of COVID-19, not exploiting breakdowns in supply chains or a shortage of critical equipment like masks, gloves and gowns in order to advance their own national security interests.  This is unacceptable, and the United States must be able to hold China accountable if it continues.”

The new legislation, called the Preventing China From Exploiting COVID-19 Act, would require the Director of National Intelligence to work alongside the Secretaries of Defense, State and Homeland Security to prepare an assessment of the different ways the Chinese government may have exploited the effects of the pandemic. The report would also evaluate how the Chinese government could exploit the pandemic in the future.

Within 90 days, the assessment would be sent to Congress and posted as an unclassified form on the Director of National Intelligence webpage. 

The new legislation came out of a letter sent to congressional leadership from the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democrats that identify as centrists. 

“No one should seek to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic for political or economic advantage,” Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), who serves as co-chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security, said in a statement.

“We must examine whether the Chinese Communist Party has used intellectual cyber-theft, misinformation campaigns, and aggressive territorial maneuvers, among other tactics to take advantage of the pandemic. We need to get to the bottom of where the Chinese government has exploited COVID-19 and undermined our fight against the global pandemic. Where they’ve crossed the line, they must be held accountable.”

Torres Small, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has been working since the coronavirus crisis began to address different issues that effect her constituents, like securing reliable internet, funding through the Paycheck Protection Act, and getting critical healthcare funding to her district.