US Senate leader pushes bill to boost industry against China
May 27, 2021 - 08:29 AM
WASHINGTON — US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday said he would push for rapid passage of a bill that would allocate tens of billions of dollars towards boosting American industrial and technological competitiveness, particularly against China.
A key provision of the proposal aims to address a shortage of semiconductors that has put the brakes on auto production this year.
With both American political parties increasingly worried about competition from Beijing, Schumer hopes he can win bipartisan passage of the US Innovation and Competition Act.
The Democratic leader said he aims to get a vote on the bill “by the end of the week.”
The legislation “will supercharge American innovation and preserve our competitive edge not just for the next few years, but for generations to come,” Schumer said in the Senate.
The proposal aims to address a number of technological areas in which the United States has fallen behind its Chinese competitors, including in the production of semiconductors.
An ongoing shortage of the crucial chips has forced US automakers to cut production, and the bill allocates $52 billion in funding for a previously approved plan to increase domestic manufacturing of the components.
Also included is $1.5 billion to pay for a fund to boost American competitiveness in 5G wireless technology.
Another $1.5 billion would go towards a program “to counter the malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party globally,” and require the State Department to appoint a top official dedicated to that goal, according to a summary of the legislation.
Billions of dollars would go towards scholarships and other programs to advance scientific research.
President Joe Biden has pledged to work with opposition Republicans on key issues, and as Democrats control the Senate by a single vote, Schumer would need backing from several Republicans to forestall a potential filibuster that could block passage of the legislation.
The Democratic leader has collaborated with at least one Republican senator on the bill, and said the bipartisan support “reveals that Democrats and Republicans are united in our efforts to preserve and maintain American leadership on the world stage.”