Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday he has directed lawmakers to draft a package of measures investing in cutting-edge technologies to “out-compete” China.
The announcement comes as President Joe Biden has vowed to engage in “extreme” competition with the Chinese regime by boosting critical domestic sectors. Countering threats posed by Beijing also enjoys bipartisan support in Congress.
Schumer said he has directed committees to work on a bill that would be based on bipartisan legislation he co-sponsored last year that sought to inject $100 billion in funding for research in key high-tech areas.
“I want this bill to address America’s short-term and long-term plans to protect the semiconductor supply chain, and to keep us number one in things like AI, 5G, quantum computing, biomedical research, [data] storage,” the senator said at a weekly press conference, adding that he was aiming for the measure to be introduced in the spring.
Schumer said the package would also seek to provide emergency funding to implement bipartisan semiconductor programs included in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which designates funding for the U.S. military. He called semiconductors “a dangerous weak spot in our economy,” citing the current global chip shortage that has forced some U.S. automakers to temporarily halt their production.
“You’ve seen that auto plants throughout America are closed because they can’t get the chips cannot rely on foreign processors,” Schumer said. “We can’t let China get ahead of us in chip production.”
He added, “We need to get a bill like this to the president’s desk quickly to protect America’s long-term economic and national security.”
Biden officials have broadly indicated the administration would continue President Donald Trump’s tough-on-China approach, but have emphasized working with allies to counter the regime, which they say is a point of difference from the Trump administration. The administration is currently reviewing Trump’s China policies, and has yet to detail concrete plans for how to respond to the challenges posed by Beijing.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers have increased pressure on Biden to continue Trump’s hardline stance toward the regime.
Under the prior legislation that the bill would be modeled on, the $100 billion in funding would be funneled over 5 years through a new technology directorate to be installed at the National Science Foundation. Under that proposal, an additional $10 billion would be set aside for technology hubs.
The new package would also aim to secure technology and strategic alliances to counter China, and curb the Chinese regime’s predatory economic practices, according to Schumer.