House passes bill adding billions to research to compete with China

WASHINGTON — The House on Friday passed legislation that would inject nearly $300 billion into scientific research and development and s...


WASHINGTON — The House on Friday passed legislation that would inject nearly $300 billion into scientific research and development and strengthen domestic manufacturing, sparking a dispute with the Senate over how best to invest in scientific innovation to bolster American competitiveness and countering China.

The 222-210 vote on the sprawling 2,900-page legislation was part of a new push by the Biden administration and Capitol Hill Democrats to rescue stalled industrial policy legislation and tackle lingering problems of supply chain and inflation, which have been fueled by shortages of semiconductors.

Among other things, it would provide $52 billion in grants and subsidies to semiconductor manufacturers and $45 billion in grants and loans to support supply chain resilience and American manufacturing. If enacted, the legislation would be the most expansive attempt ever by the United States to confront China with a substantial role for the government in spurring technological advances and industrial growth.

At a Friday morning press conference, President Nancy Pelosi of California said the bill would ensure that the United States would remain preeminent in manufacturing, innovation and economic strength and could “surpass anyone.” what a nation”.

“This bill that we are talking about today is a jobs bill,” Ms Pelosi said. “A jobs bill for making in America, making it in America.”

The measure passed almost along party lines, with most Republicans opposing it, arguing that the bill was not tough enough on Beijing and contained too many superfluous provisions, including funding for marine mammal research and coral reef conservation efforts.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican and Minority Leader, said the bill shows Democrats are prioritizing welfare and climate change over real efforts to compete with China.

“It wastes billions of dollars on unrelated issues and includes no measures to make China pay for the chaos it has created,” he said.

It is unlikely to be enacted in its current form, given the differences between the House and the Senate, which adopted a version last year with bipartisan support. Administration officials have called on Congress to negotiate quickly and send a compromise bill to President Biden’s office, but there are deep ideological differences between the two chambers over the degree of punishment against China and the how to fund scientific research.

House Democrats have argued that the Senate bill is too prescriptive in allocating funds to specific areas of cutting-edge technology, such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Their bill, which sets out few stipulations on the new round of funding for scientific research, puts greater emphasis on increasing basic research in many areas, particularly climate change.

“We are acting to meet the critical needs identified by the scientific community, industry, academia and other stakeholders as what they need most to succeed in the 21st century,” said Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas Democrat and Chair of the Science Committee. .

Since the House and Senate bills are so broad, there will be no shortage of questions for lawmakers to debate. These provisions include a House-led effort to make it more difficult for Chinese companies to import cheap goods into the United States duty-free, and a Senate-led effort to restore exclusions previously granted to tariffs that the President Donald J. Trump has imposed on China. .

The provision that has garnered the most bipartisan support so far is cash for chipmakers, a measure that semiconductor companies like Intel say will increase the attractiveness of investment in the United States.

But many Republicans, some of whom had already approved parts of the bill in committee or in the House, said they could not support the broader legislation with so many additional measures they considered superfluous.

“This is a missed opportunity to build momentum for a proactive trade agenda, protect and strengthen American innovation, and alleviate some of the pressures on the supply chain and workforce that our country faces. faces,” said Adrian Smith, a Republican from Nebraska.

Many foreign policy measures added by Democrats to the House bill focus on climate change, and other provisions are drafted as token assertions, rather than binding legislation or mirror measures. already passed by Congress. It would authorize $225 million over five years to bolster State Department military training and education programs in the Indo-Pacific region.

Other House Republicans argued that in trying to counter China’s stranglehold on the global supply chain, the legislation went too far in trying to copy Beijing’s approach to industrial policy.

“I know the Democrats want to say this is a competitive bill, but it takes a page out of China’s playbook,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the leading Republican in the energy and trade committee. “He tries to outspend China. China has a centralized industrial policy. China picks winners and losers based on its political allies.

This argument — that lawmakers shouldn’t be tasked with picking “winners and losers” — has long kept Republicans from approving significant government intervention in industrial policy. But a growing number of Senate Republicans in recent years have shown more interest in supporting such investments, saying government subsidies for sectors such as semiconductors are needed to compete with China.

The 2,400-page Senate bill passed in June would inject nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next five years into scientific research and development to boost competitiveness against China.

Some Senate lawmakers, eager to support research initiatives in their states, have managed to shift much of the $100 billion which had been planned for a research and development center for emerging technologies at the National Science Foundation for basic research, as well as laboratories run by the Department of Energy.

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Newsrust - US Top News: House passes bill adding billions to research to compete with China
House passes bill adding billions to research to compete with China
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