The countries of Chinese President Xi Jinping (top) and his American counterpart Joe Biden are locked in a race for technological and innovation supremacy
The US Senate passed a sweeping industrial policy bill Tuesday aimed at countering a surging economic threat from rival China, overcoming partisan divisions to support pumping more than $170 billion into research and development.
With both American political parties increasingly worried about competition from Asia’s largest power, the measure cleared the chamber on a 68-32 vote, one of the most significant bipartisan achievements in Congress since Joe Biden’s presidency began in January.
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, which earlier passed a different version. The two will have to be reconciled into a single bill before it is sent to the White House for the president’s signature.
“We are in a competition to win the 21st century, and the starting gun has gone off,” Biden said.
The package, a key provision of which addresses a shortage of semiconductors that has slowed US auto production this year, will help US industry bolster its capacity and improve technology.
Schumer called the measure “one of the most important things this chamber has done in a very long time, a statement of faith in America’s ability to seize the opportunities of the 21st century.”
The bill allocates $52 billion in funding for a previously approved plan to increase domestic manufacturing of the components.
And it facilitates tie-ups between private firms and research universities.
Whichever countries best harness technologies like AI, robotics and quantum computing will be able to shape innovation to its image, added Schumer, before criticising Chinese President Xi Jinping.
– Bid for US ‘leadership’ –
While the Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell stressed that the measure remained “incomplete,” it nevertheless passed by a healthy margin, highlighting how the nation’s competition with its rising geopolitical rival China is one of the few issues that can bring feuding Republicans and Democrats together.