Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer is pushing ahead with a bill to counter China on the technology front while making changes to bipartisan legislation, as some Republicans express concern that the bill of law should not rush.
The New York Democrat announced Tuesday that the legislation was to be renamed, “America’s Competition and Innovation Act,” and was preparing a substitute amendment that includes components of other proposed bills.
The legislation would authorize spending billions of taxpayer dollars on scientific and technological research to compete with China, and there has been an intense debate about which agencies should raise the money and how much they should get.
“If we are not leaders in science and innovation, millions of high paying jobs that will be available to this generation and the next will go, they will go,” Schumer said in the Senate. “We have no choice. We have always led and now we have lagged behind. Other countries are investing more than us. They are not as good at it as we are, they are not as innovative as us, but if they put in the money and we don’t, woe to us! ”.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed concern that the bill would be rushed, but said the aspiration of a safe and innovative America to surpass China is “something that all senators want.”
“Several colleagues have come up with a proposal that touches on a long list of topics, from university funding to regional economic development, Indo-Pacific geopolitics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and more. Legislation this broad needs a comprehensive, robust, and bipartisan floor process, including a healthy series of amendment votes, ”McConnell, R-Kentucky, said in the full Senate Tuesday.
McConnell cited Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi and senior member of the Commerce Committee, as saying that the current draft “is not yet ready for prime time and deserves a robust process here in the room.”
McConnell said he understood that Schumer had assured others that no effort would be made to “close the debate on the amendments prematurely.”
A significant component of the legislation, formerly called the Endless Frontier Act, advanced through the committee after six hours of debate and dozens of amendments addressing issues ranging from the sale of shark fins to how to allocate billions of dollars from the taxpayers.
The initial Endless Frontier Act had seven original Democratic co-sponsors led by Schumer and seven Republican co-sponsors, and the Senate voted Monday to proceed with the legislation.
Republican Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida have complained that the National Science Foundation is ill-equipped to protect the billions that the original legislation proposed to send.
They cited concerns that the federal agency would not adequately protect taxpayer dollars from falling into the pockets of scientists allegedly compromised by China.