The U.S. Senate on Tuesday is set to approve a sweeping package of legislation intended to boost the country’s ability to compete with Chinese technology, as Congress increasingly seeks to take a tough line against Beijing.
The nearly $250 billion bill cleared a procedural vote 68-30 in late May and is expected to win final approval after a couple of votes on outstanding issues. The desire for a hard line in dealings with China is one of the few bipartisan sentiments in the deeply divided U.S. Congress, which is narrowly controlled by President Joe Biden’s fellow Democrats.
The measure authorizes about $190 billion for provisions to strengthen U.S. technology and research — and would separately approve spending $54 billion to increase U.S. production and research into semiconductors and telecommunications equipment.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has said the funding could result in seven to 10 new U.S. semiconductor plants.
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who co-sponsored the legislation, said the United States spends less than 1% of gross domestic product on basic scientific research, less than half of what China does.
“The bipartisan legislation will be the largest investment in scientific research and technological innovation in generations, setting the United States on a path to lead the world in the industries of the future,” Schumer said Monday.
The bill must also pass the House of Representatives to be sent to the White House for Biden to sign into law. It’s not clear what legislation in the House will look like or when they might take it up.
The legislation also seeks to counter Beijing’s growing global influence through diplomacy, by working with allies and increasing U.S. involvement in international organizations after former Republican President Donald Trump pulled Washington out as part of his “America First” agenda.