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Described as “historic” and intended to encourage companies to produce in the United States, a plan of 170 billion dollars of investment was approved Tuesday by the Senate. It must now be definitively adopted by the House of Representatives before being promulgated by Joe Biden.
In a rare moment of union between Democrats and Republicans, the US Senate adopted, Tuesday, June 8, a bill providing for ambitious investments in science and technology to counter the economic threat from China and its “authoritarian” model .
The text, presented as “historic”, was approved by 68 votes against 32 in the Senate and must now be adopted definitively, on a date which has not yet been fixed, by the House of Representatives before being promulgated by Joe Biden.
This plan earmarks more than 170 billion dollars for research and development, in particular by aiming to encourage companies to produce in the United States of the semiconductors, today mainly manufactured in Asia. A global shortage is hitting many key sectors, from automotive to communications, illustrating the strategic stake of this production.
China, at economic war with the United States since the Trump era, is one of the few subjects on which the Democratic president is inscribed in the continuity of his Republican predecessor.
The Democratic President thus welcomed the adoption of this text. “As other countries continue to invest in their own research and development activities, we cannot fall behind. America must maintain its position as the most innovative and productive nation in the world,” added Joe Biden.
Rare deal between Democrats and Republicans
The defense of the American economy is also a consensus in Congress. “If we do nothing, our days as a dominant superpower could end,” warned Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer just before the vote. “And that is why this text will be remembered as one of the greatest successes achieved between Democrats and Republicans in the US Senate in recent history.”
The Senate just passed the US Innovation and Competition Act, including my Endless Frontier Act.
This legislation will set the United States on a path to out-innovate, out-produce, and out-compete the world in the industries of the future.
– Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 8, 2021
This bill “paves the way for the largest investment in science and technology for generations,” he explained earlier.
“Whoever wins the race for the technologies of the future”, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, “will be the world economic leader”. And this nation “will shape the world in its image,” he continued, with a warning aimed directly at Chinese leader Xi Xinping. “Do we want this image to be democratic? Or do we want an authoritarian image, like the one President Xi would like to impose on the world?”
Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lamented that the plan left measures “out” but ultimately voted in favor.
“From critical supply chains to intellectual property to counterintelligence, it tackles key topics that will help define our strategic foundations for decades,” he said.
This investment project “offers the United States the opportunity to strike a blow, to respond to the unfair competition that we see from the Chinese Communist Party”, added the Republican Roger Wicker, number two of the committee of the Trade where the text was negotiated.
Beijing is regularly accused by Washington of industrial espionage and threats to national security.
Research in artificial intelligence and development of 5G
Concretely, the plan provides $ 52 billion over five years to encourage the manufacture of chips and semiconductors in the United States. In his presentation, the parliamentarians stressed that the Chinese Communist Party was investing “considerably, with more than 150 billion”, in these technologies.
The US plan also allocates $ 120 billion to a government agency, the National Science Foundation, to encourage research in various areas deemed key, such as artificial intelligence.
It also includes a $ 1.5 billion envelope for the development of 5G, one of the main areas of tension between China and the United States.
The Biden administration has for several months been looking for ways to boost domestic production of a range of industrial components, like chips, to reduce its dependence on foreign suppliers. The US president issued an executive order in February calling on federal agencies to look into the matter within 100 days.