The U.S. Senate approved legislation to help the United States compete with China in the technology race by providing funds for one of the largest investments in American industry ever by a vote of 68-32.

The bipartisan legislation costs $250 billion and specifically targets Big Tech. It is one of the largest investments in research and development in U.S. history. The money will go to national research grants and the U.S. semiconductor industry. This bill was championed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and is viewed as a key part of President Joe Biden‘s infrastructure plan.

Cracking down on China has long been a bipartisan issue, and one of the few overlapping policy goals between the Trump and Biden Administrations. In fact, last Thursday, Biden added the names of Chinese firms which Americans are barred from investing in because of their links to the Chinese military or because they are engaged in selling surveillance technology. This list was originally published under President Donald Trump in November and included 59 firms. Biden’s support for the list and for Republican ideals such as supporting American innovation against Chinese competition, a staple of Trump’s presidency, is notable during a period of deep polarization in American politics.

This bill has been criticized by both sides of the aisle. Many Republicans have argued that the amount of debt the bill will accrue outweighs the potential advantages.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) stated during a debate on the bill: “it involves an attempt by the United States of America to compete with China, but on terms that don’t favor us.”

 

An integral part of the bill is its support for semiconductor funding. The money would go toward improving both American semiconductor development and support purchasing of the best foreign semiconductor technology that would in turn help advance manufacturing.

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