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Krishnamoorthi's moment, what does he want?

Raja Krishnamoorthi makes some waves

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) is having something of a moment.

The Illinois Democrat, ranking member of the China select committee, was one of the key House players behind the swift passage of the TikTok ban bill. It was the first time that Congress had taken such a controversial action against a popular social media app. What TikTok and China will do in response has yet to be seen.

The China select panel is also holding a markup next week of the Biosecure Act, which prohibits federal contracts for biotech companies owned by foreign adversaries, including China. Krishnamoorthi is a co-sponsor of that bill.

On the political side, Khrishnamoorthi is co-hosting a dinner tonight for President Joe Biden that will rake in more than $1 million. Krishnamoorthi has already funneled $250,000 to the Biden Victory Fund.

Krishnamoorthi has raised more than $4.5 million for the DCCC. And he’s given and raised $650,000 to Frontline and Red to Blue candidates.

Perhaps most impressively, Krishnamoorthi is sitting on $16 million-plus in his reelection campaign. That’s a massive sum for a House member.

All of which has led other Democrats to ask what Krishnamoorthi wants. Is he preparing to run statewide? Is his future in the House?

In an interview, Krishnamoorthi downplayed any of that speculation, saying his focus is on helping Democrats win the House.

“Take back the House, keep the White House,” Krishnamoorthi said when asked about all the fundraising activity. “That’s why I am doing everything I can. We’ll do more as we go along. And we gotta see Speaker Hakeem Jeffries. Period.”

Krishnamoorthi’s bio reads like a movie script. Born in India, Krishnamoorthi moved to the United States when he was three months old. His family eventually ended up in Peoria, Ill. Krishnamoorthi got a degree in mechanical engineering from Princeton and then went on to Harvard Law School.

Krishnamoorthi met Barack Obama in 1998, serving as a researcher on the future president’s unsuccessful House bid in 2000. When Obama ran for Senate in 2004, Krishnamoorthi was policy director. Krishnamoorthi served in several posts in Illinois, ran for the House in 2012 and lost. In 2016, Krishnamoorthi ran again and won.

Now in his fourth term, the 50-year-old Krishnamoorthi has seats on the Intelligence and Oversight panels, plus his China select committee post. Krishnamoorthi is the first South Asian American to hold such a position on a congressional committee.

Despite the bitter partisanship of the 118th Congress, Krishnamoorthi said he and former Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who chaired the China select committee, were able to get past that because the lawmakers and aides involved believe it’s vital to countering China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region and globally. That extends to the other panels they worked with as well, including Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and especially Energy and Commerce.

Krishnamoorthi noted that he and Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), who succeeded Gallagher as the select committee chair, plan to keep that effort going.

“I think the work speaks for itself,” Krishnamoorthi said. “It’s been one of the most bipartisan, productive committees in all of Congress at this point… Mike Gallagher’s leadership is going to be missed, but John Moolenaar is going to bring the same bipartisan approach to the committee.”

– John Bresnahan

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.