Kicker: Senate weighs investing $120 Billion in science to contain China’s rise
Washington: The US Senate voted on Monday to advance a broad bipartisan effort to counter China’s economic and geopolitical ambitions, though negotiators are still hammering out critical details of the legislation.
Senators voted 86-11 to move forward on the Endless Frontier Act, the base for the larger China bill. Ultimately, it’s expected to include additional measures boosting technology research and development, revitalizing manufacturing sectors, and outlining a diplomatic and national security strategy for the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has long pushed for a more hawkish approach to China, is leading the effort alongside Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), a rising voice in his party on foreign affairs.The final product could pass the Senate before June and would represent the culmination of a two-month effort by Senate committees, to draw up bipartisan legislation aimed at out-competing China. The nascent agreement is also a bright spot for a chamber that has grown increasingly partisan in recent years.
Schumer called the bill a “once-in-a-generation investment in American science and American technology.”
“We can either have a world where the Chinese Communist Party determines the rules of the road for 5G, artificial intelligence and quantum computing — or we can make sure the United States gets there first,” Schumer said on the floor.
President Joe Biden supports the bill, the White House announced Monday, calling it “an important step in ensuring the U.S. remains globally competitive in the 21st century.”
The final legislation is likely to include bipartisan bills to boost semiconductor manufacturing, push back against China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property, and confront Beijing’s threats to U.S. national security, among others. Aides said they expect the Senate to wrap up its work on the effort by Memorial Day.
The centerpiece of the Endless Frontier Act is $100 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation to create a new technology directorate. But Sen. Young raised concerns after the Senate Commerce Committee adopted an amendment to the bill last week that would redirect billions of dollars instead to the Department of Energy. Young hinted that it could cause Republicans to yank their support from the final product, but said he was hopeful that negotiators could reach a compromise.