Senate Delays Bill to Strengthen U.S. Competition With China

A cornerstone of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s legislative package to make the U.S. a stronger competitor against China may be delayed as a key committee postponed consideration of the bill.

“It needs some time for consensus to build,” Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Commerce Committee, said on Monday. He added that the panel would likely take up the legislation, called the Endless Frontier Act, after the Senate returns in May from a recess.

Senate Delays Bill to Strengthen U.S. Competition With China

Wicker said more than 200 amendments had been filed. In addition to the complications that would come with dealing with such a large number of proposed changes and additions, some Republican senators had concerns about the substance of the legislation, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Congressional Republicans have expressed wariness over the proposal’s cost.

The delay would set back Schumer’s plan for quick action on the measure. The committee’s chair, Maria Cantwell, a Washington State Democrat, put off work on the bill. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday evening.

The delay could also affect funding for increased U.S. production of semiconductors amid a global shortage. Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, is planning to push for the Endless Frontier Act to include money for his CHIPS for America legislation, according to a person familiar with the matter. The bill became law earlier this year but was never funded. President Joe Biden has called for as much as $50 billion for the initiative.

The legislation, which was introduced by Schumer and Senator Todd Young, an Indiana Republican, would allocate $100 billion over five years to bolster U.S. research and development to counter China. It would also provide $10 billion to establish regional innovation hubs -- a provision intended to shore up support for the bill among lawmakers from across the country.

With both parties showing an increasing willingness to confront China economically, there are no shortage of proposals for how to best do that. But the huge number of amendments may in and of itself proved to be too much to resolve before the bill was scheduled to be put together on Wednesday.

The Senate is scheduled to be out next week and return the week of May 10.

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