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Senate Passes Bill to Counter and Compete with China

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(Jim Young/Reuters)

The Senate passed sweeping legislation Tuesday designed to counter and compete with China’s growing power by investing more than $200 billion over the next five years into scientific research and technology.

The bill, called the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), was supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the chamber in a 68-32 vote to bolster funding for emerging industrial sectors, namely semi-conductors. The bipartisan approval of the measure signaled that both parties are prioritizing matching the authoritarian Chinese regime’s growing influence on the international stage. It shows a Republican shift from the free-market, anti-government intervention in the economy stance to support of an industrial policy to bolster U.S. efforts to compete with China.

The legislation would allocate $52 billion for a subsidy program into semi-conductor manufacturers in an effort to bolster the industry. Funding would also go to fostering collaboration between private firms and research universities nationwide to promote scientific discovery and development.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a member of the Democratic caucus, rejected the bill, while 19 Senate Republicans voted to adopt it. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer co-sponsored and spear-headed the legislation alongside Republican Senator Todd Young and lobbied members aggressively to enact it. Schumer commented that the competition bill “will supercharge American innovation and preserve our competitive edge for generations to come” in the geo-political race against China.

“When future generations of Americans cast their gaze toward new frontiers, will they see a red flag planted on those new frontiers that is not our own?” Young said on the chamber floor. “Today, we answer unequivocally, ‘No.’ Today we declare our intention to win this century, and those that follow it as well.”

“When all is said and done, the bill will go down as one of the most important things this chamber has done in a very long time. …We can concede the mantle of global leadership to our adversaries or we can pave the way for another generation of American leadership. That is what this bill is about,” Schumer said.

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