On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan, $250 billion bill which seeks to undermine Chinese ambitions in the technological space by boosting U.S. competitiveness, providing funding for technology research and development.
After being delayed before the Senate’s Memorial Day recess, with some Republican senators raising “last-minute concerns about its size and scope,” the bill passed, 68 votes to 32, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“The legislation represents a potential landmark effort to turn the tide on several long-term trends in U.S. competitiveness,” the Journal added. “Those include eroding federal investments in research overall and a shrinking share of the world’s semiconductor manufacturing.”
The “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act” will now move to the House of Representatives for approval, and includes subsidies for semiconductor manufacturers and robot makers, as well as “an overhaul of the National Science Foundation,” reported CNBC.
“The scope of the bill, the final product of at least six Senate committees and almost all members of the chamber, reflects the many fronts in the U.S.-China rivalry,” CNBC added. “It also likely represents one of the last major bipartisan initiatives of 2021, proof that U.S. lawmakers are broadly in favor of legislation that works to counter Beijing’s economic and military expansion.”
“Passing this bill — now called the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act — is the moment when the Senate lays the foundation for another century of American leadership,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said from the Senate floor on Tuesday evening.
“Around the globe, authoritarian governments believe that squabbling democracies like ours can’t unite around national priorities,” he continued. “Well, let me tell you something: I believe that they are wrong. I believe that this legislation will enable the United States to out-innovate, out-produce, and out-compete the world in the industries of the future.”
“Senate passage of USICA is a pivotal step toward strengthening U.S. semiconductor production and innovation and an indication of the strong, bipartisan support in Washington for ensuring sustained American leadership in science and technology,” said John Neuffer, CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), a trade group that represents a swath of the nation’s chipmaker. “Enactment of these investments would help strengthen America’s economy, national security, technology leadership, and global competitiveness for years to come.”
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden celebrated the bill.
“It is long past time that we invest in American workers and American innovation,” Biden said in a statement. “We are in a competition to win the 21st century, and the starting gun has gone off. As other countries continue to invest in their own research and development, we cannot risk falling behind.”
On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Ben Sasse also expressed support.
“As a China hawk and a fiscal hawk, I would have liked for this bill to take a more focused and aggressive approach to the China threat – but this is a strong start,” Sasse said in a press release. “The Chinese Communist Party is working overtime on cyber, AI, and machine learning so that they can become the world’s preeminent super power. We can’t let our foot off the gas.”
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