Senate passes bill to limit China tech influence
The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would create about $190 billion in additional funding for research and development if it becomes law.
The bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act package was yesterday approved in the Senate. The proposed legislation is likely to go to undergo a reconciliation process at a joint conference committee before it will be voted on by House lawmakers.
The extra funding would come in addition to more than $200 billion in R&D spending proposed as part of Biden’s infrastructure initiative, and a 35% hike in funding for clean energy R&D included in budget proposals published last month.
China-specific provisions in the bill include a section that would forbid federal employees from downloading the social media app TikTok on government devices. It would also block the purchase of drones manufactured and sold by companies backed by the Chinese government.
Curtailing the technological influence of China is one of a few areas where Democrat and Republican lawmakers have found common ground. In addition to extra funding for R&D, the legislation would separately approve $54 billion in spending to boost the production of semiconductors and telecommunications equipment.
If passed, the proposed law would provide a $2 billion boost to the manufacturing of chips used by carmakers.
Lawmakers have previously sought to introduce similar legislation. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., in the last sessions of Congress introduced the Endless Frontier Act, inspired by the work of Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson.
The Innovation and Competition Act includes aspects of the Endless Frontier Act and is designed to preserve the place of the U.S. as the world’s leader in science and technology.
Commenting on the passage of the act, Khanna said: “Bipartisanship is rare in Washington, but this filibuster-proof vote shows there is wide support, not just from the White House or Congressional Democrats, but from the many Republicans who want to see this vision for America’s innovation future become a reality.”
“The legislation will create millions of jobs in America and ensure we remain the world’s leader in science and technology in the 21st century,” he added.
President and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association John Neuffer said: “Senate passage of USICA is a pivotal step toward strengthening U.S. semiconductor production and innovation and an indication of the strong, bipartisan support in Washington for ensuring sustained American leadership in science and technology.”