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House passes bill targeting China over Uyghur treatment after bipartisan deal

The House and the Senate previously passed related versions of the bill with overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle.
A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colors of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand bearing the colors of the Chinese flag attends a protest to denounce China's treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims, in Istanbul July 5, 2018.
A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colors of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand with the colors of the Chinese flag at a protest to denounce China's treatment of ethnic Uyghur Muslims in Istanbul on July 5, 2018.Ozan Kose / AFP via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday passed a bill that would punish China for its treatment of the country's Uyghur population following a bicameral agreement on the legislation.

The measure passed by voice vote, indicating unanimous support. The legislation now heads to the Senate, which is expected to send the bill to the White House for President Joe Biden's signature.

The House voted 428-1 last week to pass a version of the bill written by Jim McGovern, D-Mass. The Senate unanimously passed a related measure, sponsored by Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in July.

McGovern's bill would ban imports produced by ethnic Muslims in internment camps in northwest China, while Rubio's would clamp down on goods manufactured under forced labor conditions in Xinjiang.

The compromise bill would instruct the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force to submit a notice to the Federal Register for public comment about how to best ensure that "goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part with forced labor" in China by Uyghurs and members of other persecuted groups are not imported into the U.S., according to the text of the bill obtained by NBC.

McGovern announced the bipartisan deal with Rubio earlier on Tuesday.

"Happy to report that Senator Rubio & I just reached an agreement on final text of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act," McGovern said on Twitter. "We will be moving our bill through both chambers & to President Biden's desk as quickly as possible."

The White House previously announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics in February, citing China’s "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses."

The U.S. labeled China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang as genocide in January, and lawmakers have been pushing a ban on imports of products made with forced labor by Uyghurs. China has dismissed the genocide charge, calling it a slanderous assertion about conditions in Xinjiang.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said before Tuesday's House vote that Biden welcomed the compromise measure.

"The Administration will work closely with Congress to implement this bill to ensure global supply chains are free of forced labor, while simultaneously working to on-shore and third-shore key supply chains, including semiconductors and clean energy," Psaki said in a statement.