Senate approves sprawling $250 billion bill to curtail China’s economic and military ambitions

On Tuesday, the Senate passed rare bipartisan legislation aimed at countering China’s growing influence by investing more than $ 200 billion in US technology, science, and research.

The final vote was 68-32. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was the only member of the Democratic group to vote against the bill. Nineteen Senate Republicans joined Democrats who voted for approval.

The passage is a victory for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat who co-wrote and strongly supported the measure, and for President Joe Biden, who made Across the Aisle a central promise of his government strategy, although it has been criticized. for advancing unilaterally on the most important issues on his agenda at this time.

The broad legislation, known as the American Competition and Innovation Act, aims to confront China’s influence on multiple fronts and “will spur American innovation and preserve our competitive advantage for generations to come,” Schumer said.

The bill has yet to pass the House before going to Biden’s office. The Speaker of the House of Representatives for Foreign Relations, Gregory Meeks, introduced a corresponding bill to the House last month, but it is unclear when the legislation will pass.

The final vote on the competition bill was delayed until after the Memorial Day recess to accommodate Republican critics of the bill who insisted on more time to speak to express their concerns. The delay allowed the Senate to vote on whether to push through the committee’s January 6 legislation, which failed last month after Republicans blocked the bill.

Many Senate Republicans, including minority leader Mitch McConnell, have warned for weeks that they will block the legislation unless they get more votes on the GOP-backed amendments. Before the bill was passed on Tuesday, McConnell again argued that Schumer closed the debate on the bill too early and that the legislation was “incomplete.”

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Despite this concern, the Kentucky Republican touted the importance of the legislation, saying it “touches on key issues that will help determine our strategic position for decades.” He added that it “includes several smart selective measures, but leaves many more on the table, so it will move forward as a flawed approach to an extremely large challenge.”

Schumer vigorously rejected GOP criticism and pointed to a long list of amendments to the bill that had passed so far, including 18 Republican amendments and four Democratic amendments.

Republican senators weren’t the only ones who wanted to see changes to the bill. Sanders had raised concerns about various provisions, including $ 10 billion in authorized funding for NASA that would likely benefit Jeff Bezos’s space company, as well as tens of billions for the US semiconductor industry.

The effort was the product of various Senate committees, making it one of the few areas of successful bipartisan cooperation in the Senate. The basis for the bill comes from legislation that Schumer and Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana jointly introduced last year, which was called the Endless Frontier Act.

The Schumer and Young bill, which included investments in a new technology directly from the National Science Foundation to spur US technological innovation, was supplemented by bipartisan legislation from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called the Senate Foreign Relations Act. Strategic Competition.

The package presented by the Senate also includes $ 54 billion in spending to boost America’s semiconductor industry, according to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, to challenge China’s growing superiority in global manufacturing and supply of chains. There are additional investments in cybersecurity and biotechnology, according to a summary by the Democratic Senate.

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Other elements of the bill include the investment of $ 10 billion over five years in the Ministry of Commerce to create regional technology center programs, a third of which are expected to be located in rural areas.

The legislation also requires that iron, steel, manufactured products, and building materials used in federally funded infrastructure projects be produced in the United States. The bill would also codify the Made in America office that Biden established earlier this year.

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News Credit@ CNN

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