Blaine's Bulletin: Crippling Hot Sauce

Now that Republicans are in the majority, my colleagues and I are also in control of scheduling committee hearings and choosing the topics that are covered. This was a busy week with the Small Business Committee and Select Committee on China both holding their inaugural hearings of this Congress, along with a Financial Services Committee markup. On the same day, I attended a committee hearing that discussed the most serious threats to the United States and the entire world just hours after participating in one of most (if not the most) inspiring and enjoyable experiences I’ve had in Congress. 

On Tuesday, the Small Business Committee held a hearing titled “From Nothing to Something: The Story of the American Dream.” The Committee invited entrepreneurs who have built their own companies to share their stories and discuss how the government can assist, or at least not prevent, other Americans in achieving the same success. I was very proud to invite Hillsboro native, Drew Davis, a 17-year-old small business owner who is actually still in high school. Drew is truly an inspiration. In less than a year, Drew started a successful hot sauce business that has sold more than 16,000 bottles and is in 90 different retailers across Missouri – pretty impressive for a 17-year-old.  Even more impressive is that Drew has accomplished this while living with cerebral palsy. He named his company “Crippling Hot Sauce,” to show he is not letting his disability slow him down or hinder his sense of humor. In fact he is using his company to help support the nearly 800,000 Americans living with cerebral palsy today by committing five percent of his proceeds to cerebral palsy research. To say Drew stole the show at the committee hearing is an understatement. His testimony and answers to questions had the entire room laughing and at times bringing members to tears. He displayed a complete understanding of his business that most adult executives don’t bring to hearings, and he served as an inspiration to everyone he came across. I am so grateful to the Davis family for making the trip to Capitol Hill and look forward to seeing how Drew’s business continues to grow. 

A few hours later, my colleagues and I on the Select Committee on China held our first hearing. This is a new committee created so we can use the tools at our disposal as lawmakers to examine the threat the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) poses to the United States. The committee will review everything from the Chinese military’s aggression, to the CCP’s weaponization of its economy, to its human rights abuses in China and around the world. We heard from some great witnesses on Tuesday night, including General H.R. McMaster who served as National Security Advisor in the last administration and Ms. Tong Yi who spent two and half years in a Chinese labor camp due to her outspoken commitment to human rights. Her chilling testimony as someone who has lived through the evils of the CCP perfectly illustrated what is really going on in that country - and how cautious the U.S. should be when doing business with such immoral, ruthless leaders. Our hearing reiterated that China is the largest threat the United States faces and they are coming at us from every angle. CCP-connected entities have been shipping tons and tons of Fentanyl into the U.S. through Mexico for years. They are stealing American intellectual property to compete directly against our businesses; they’re creating fake companies to steal billions of dollars out of our financial markets; and as we all saw a few weeks ago with the balloon fiasco, they are openly spying on the American people. The Committee has its work cut out for it, but I’m encouraged that our new majority has finally gotten Congress to start addressing the threat. 

Speaking of China, the Financial Services Committee held a markup and passed several bipartisan bills to combat the economic threat from the CCP. One bill if passed through Congress, will force international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to cut their support of the CCP. We also passed legislation to promote and protect Taiwan as a world economic player. Not only has Taiwan always been a peaceful ally of the U.S., but it’s the world’s largest manufacturer of chips. We need chips for everything from smartphones to cars, and it’s critical that Taiwan maintains its independence from the CCP’s bullying and control. Some of these bills were designed to help bolster Taiwan in the global economy and I’m hopeful they’ll pass on the House floor. Importantly, these bills were bipartisan. I’m glad my colleagues across our conference as well as across the aisle are acknowledging the threat China poses and the urgency with which it needs to be addressed. 

It was a busy, but very productive week and I’m pleased to have so much good news to report. Having a high schooler and small business owner from the district testify in front of the Small Business was a very proud moment. And some really good groundwork was laid out for our continued efforts on holding the CCP to account. This Congress is off to an energetic start, and we’ll keep the momentum going.