The Senate is poised to pass a sweeping bill aimed at improving America’s manufacturing and technological edge against China after Republican objections to certain provisions stalled it for over a week.
The legislation, dubbed the United States Competition and Investment Act, would inject $250 billion towards semiconductor manufacturing, artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing and more, and could be voted on as soon as Tuesday. It advanced in the chamber with 68 votes before senators left for Memorial Day weekend, making it one of the few major bills to receive significant bipartisan support from this Congress.
“Around the globe, authoritarian governments smell blood in the water,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor amid the bill’s debate. “They believe that squabbling democracies like ours can’t come together and invest in national priorities the way a top-down, centralized and authoritarian government can. They are rooting for us to fail so they can grab the mantle of global economic leadership and own the innovations.”
“Frankly, I think China has left us no option but to make these investments,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told The New York Times. (RELATED: Senate Punts On Bipartisan China Bill After Republican Objections)
Though the bill finally seems set to pass, it was delayed for hours during a cloture vote in May after Republicans withheld their support over what they said was a lack of GOP amendment votes.
The vote took over three hours, and passed after last-minute deliberations secured enough Republican support.
Just hours after it advanced, however, several Republicans ground the chamber to a halt, keeping the chamber in session until after 3 a.m. the next day while speaking for hours about their continued objections to a bill that they said was too expensive.
“I don’t think this bill makes us stronger,” Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said during a 32-minute speech touching on an array of topics. “In fact, I think the Chinese sit back … and laugh at America thinking we’re going to be stronger by borrowing more money from China.”
After the bill’s delay jeopardized votes on a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and other nominations, Schumer and Republicans reached a deal to vote on the bill after the congressional recess.
“It’s something we proposed,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “It assures that the vote on the U.S. Competition Act will take place when we return in June.”
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