A bill introduced to the Democrat-controlled Senate appears to be the newest bipartisan effort to curb China’s global economic expansion and encourage U.S. companies to outpace them with cutting-edge advancements, but some Republican legislators caution that the bill is expensive and doesn’t send the right message to China.
Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is leading the charge to pass the more than $250 billion bill funding national research grants and boosting the U.S. semiconductor industry but after weeks of deliberations, Senate Republicans delayed the vote until after Congress’s week-long Memorial Day recess over concerns that the legislation did not receive full, proper scrutiny by legislators or the public.
Cracking down on China is starting to become more of a bipartisan effort in Congress, but how to address the communist nation’s rapid technological growth and willingness to steal intellectual property is not widely agreed upon. To pass the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, formerly the Endless Frontier Act, Republicans are asking for reassurance that U.S. tax dollars won’t be wasted.
“My primary concern about this bill is its price tag — almost one-quarter of a trillion dollars, which we will have to borrow,” Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, one of the Republicans who led last week’s halt, told The Federalist. “When people ask for more bipartisanship in Congress, I tell them to be careful what they wish for.”
Between budget concerns and wariness about certain companies benefitting from special interests, other GOP senators have joined Johnson’s cautionary approach and walked back their support for the bill.
“This bill concerns me, in part because it involves an attempt by the United States of America to compete with China, but on terms that don’t favor us,” Sen. Mike Lee explained last week during negotiations.
.@SenMikeLee on Schumer’s China bill: “This bill concerns me, in part because it involves an attempt by the United States of America to compete with China, but on terms that don’t favor us.” pic.twitter.com/j0wDFJi60H
— The Hill (@thehill) May 29, 2021
Some Republicans have tried to soften the expensive bill’s financial impact and wide-ranging
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