The Senate approved last Tuesday a bill with an expected expenditure of close to 250 billion dollars that aims to increase national competitiveness to face the industrial and military power of China.
The bill was approved by a vote of 68 in favor and 32 against, gaining the support of senators from both parties.
President Joe Biden welcomed the Senate’s approval of the bill and called on the Lower House to do the same.
“As other countries continue to invest in their own research and development, we cannot risk being left behind. The United States must maintain its position as the most innovative and productive nation,” he said.
The highlight of the bill is a $50 billion appropriation for the Department of Commerce to subsidize the development and manufacture of semiconductor chips, which are needed for civilian as well as military devices.
In recent years, U.S. and global dependence on China for semiconductor purchases has grown exponentially.
The U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association said last week that the country’s production share of chips produced worldwide fell from 37% in 1990 to 12% in 2021.
The bill also includes money for science, research and development to boost partnerships between private companies and universities.
It also provides for new sanctions against China for human rights abuses, a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and $300 million to counter the political influence of the Chinese Communist Party.
Senate Majority Leader and co-author of the bill, Democrat Chuck Schumer, said the country that gets the technologies of the future will be “the world’s economic leader with profound foreign policy and national security consequences.”