June 9 (UPI) — The Senate on Tuesday voted to approve legislation investing in U.S. science and technology programs in efforts to combat advances by China.
Lawmakers voted 68-32 to approve the Innovation and Competition Act, which provides $200 billion in funding for U.S. scientific and technological advancements throughout the next five years.
The bill drafted by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., provides $52 billion in assistance for semiconductor manufacturing companies to produce computer chips that are used to power military devices and computer products such as vehicles, cellphones and video game consoles.
Another $81 billion would be provided to the National Science Foundation Budget between fiscal years 2022 and 2026.
Other measures in the bill include officially designating China as the “greatest geopolitical and geoeconomic challenge” to U.S. foreign policy, committing $15 billion to efforts such as opposing Chinese influence and disinformation online.
“I have watched China take advantage of us in ways legal and illegal over the years,” Schumer said in an interview before the vote. “The number one thing China was doing to take advantage of us … was investing heavily in research and science. And if we didn’t do something about it, they would become the number one economy in the world.”
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., positioned the legislation as a chance to combat dishonest actions and policies by China.
“This is an opportunity for the United States to strike a blow … answering the unfair competition we’re seeing from communist China,” said Wicker.
Schumer said Tuesday he had spoken with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about a compromise to send the measure to President Joe Biden’s desk.
In a statement Tuesday, Biden praised the Senate for approving the bill, which he said “addresses key elements” included in his American Jobs Plan.
“It is long past the time that we invest in American workers and American innovation. Along with the American Jobs Plan, the U.S. innovation and Competition Act would make generational investments in research and development and advanced manufacturing to help us grow critical industries and win the jobs of the future,” said Biden.