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U.S. Senate panel approves tech bill to address China

Stock MarketsMay 12, 2021 07:03PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter outside a company building in Shanghai, China April 14, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

By David Shepardson and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. Senate committee voted 24-4 to pass a compromise measure authorizing more than $110 billion for basic and advanced technology research over five years in the face of rising competitive pressure from China.

The "Endless Frontier" act would authorize most of the money, $100 billion, over five years to invest in basic and advanced research, commercialization, and education and training programs in key technology areas, including artificial intelligence, semiconductors, quantum computing, advanced communications, biotechnology and advanced energy.

The bill must still be approved by the full U.S. Senate and the U.S. House is working on a similar effort.

"This legislation will allow the United States to out-compete countries like China, create more good-paying American jobs and help improve our country's economic and national security," said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, who sponsored the bill along with Senator Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana.

Schumer said in a statement after the vote that he intended for the full Senate to "consider and finish" the legislation before the end of the month, and that he expected strong bipartisan support.

Though there is broad consensus to increase funding for U.S. innovation, concerns are mounting among some Republicans that the bill lacks tough rules to prevent U.S. entities that benefit from the massive spending package from later sending research and development overseas, including potentially to China.

Senator Marco Rubio said in a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday that the legislation must prohibit American money from being invested in China's military companies.

One Republican House aide told Reuters that the "lack of stringent guard rails" was counter to the objective of the bill.

"The fundamental concern with this bill as currently written is that it basically promotes taxpayer funded intellectual property, innovation, and research and development that could go into the hands of entities affiliated with or controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, or to China in general," the aide said.

Senate Democrats say they are confident sufficient safeguards will be added before it is finished.

The measure would also authorize another $10 billion to designate at least 10 regional technology hubs and create a supply chain crisis-response program to address issues like the shortfall in semiconductor chips harming auto production.

The bill does not include legislation to allow automakers to deploy tens of thousands of self-driving vehicles on U.S. roads despite a push by some lawmakers.

The self-driving effort came under criticism from unions and a plaintiff lawyer group.

Senator Gary Peters on Wednesday won approval for an amendment to establish a $2 billion supplemental financial assistance program at the Commerce Department to support production of mature semiconductor chips used by automakers and others.

U.S. Senate panel approves tech bill to address China
 

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Comments (7)
Simon Liu
Simon Liu May 13, 2021 1:13AM ET
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Free market used to be the secret of American success. When US started to ********Huawei by politics, US is then against Free Market. This, is a suiside for US.
David David
David9 May 12, 2021 10:11PM ET
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We are now in the decline stage. China is in the rise stage... China just have much more engineers, skilled workers, infrastructure, and supply chains because they have spent trillions over the decades. It is not possible to catch up. It will take decades and money spent in the right place to change course...
danny Levine
danny Levine May 12, 2021 7:28PM ET
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the reason we have advanced technologies is exactly because of free market and non interference of the government. quite funny how we are becoming china in every aspect
James Pattison
James Pattison May 12, 2021 7:21PM ET
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Oh there is a problem... quick throw money at it...
James Pattison
James Pattison May 12, 2021 7:20PM ET
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Yes cause everytine the government does a program we all sit back and marvel at theor genius... like the usps
Mike Brarey
Mike Brarey May 12, 2021 7:11PM ET
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As if big tech needed more handouts
king michael
king michael May 12, 2021 11:30AM ET
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Hi inflation, low employment + only low paid jobs, gigantic national debt mounting, harsh business policies tremendous racial and social divide .... No way US tech companies can survive long. Keep shorting the market especially tech sectors.
 
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