Senate advances bipartisan bill to counter China

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The Senate on Thursday advanced a sweeping bipartisan bill that would bolster U.S. technology and scientific advancement in a bid to out-compete China. 

The Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, is just one in a series of anti-China bills sitting in Congress. 

Senators pushed to end debate on the roughly $250 billion legislation in a 68-30 vote, following a cloture motion introduced by Schumer Thursday.

“We have put ourselves in a very precarious position of potentially falling behind the rest of the world in the technologies and industries that will define the next century,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.

The legislation includes a $190 billion effort to advance U.S. technology, along with a separate $54 billion measure to bolster semiconductors, microchips and telecommunication equipment production. 

Countering China’s growing global reach is one of the few agendas lawmakers have crossed party lines to support, but the multi-billion package seemed unlikely to pass before an eleventh-hour deal was struck early Thursday.

Schumer agreed on a vote to include a trade-related amendment coordinated by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., — a move that proved to be a top priority for not only GOP senators, but Democrats too.

The amendment passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in a 91-4 vote. 

The legislation will now include measures that counter Chinese trade practices and bar imports of products that have been made using slave labor.

It is unclear when the Senate will issue its final vote on the bipartisan package – though the majority leader said he wanted it done by Friday.

“We will finish it this week,” Schumer told reporters earlier this week. “We’ve been so bipartisan. I haven’t seen anything like it in all the years that McConnell was leader, where we have been so open to the process.”

Once the legislation passes through the Senate, it will head to the House for a vote. 

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