Schumer push to add China tech bill to U.S. defense bill faces hurdles

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WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (Businesshala) – US Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s plan to attach a measure to boost US competition with China in a major defense policy bill faces new obstacles in Congress.

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The Senate passed the US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) in June, which includes $52 billion to dramatically increase US semiconductor chip production and authorizes $190 billion to strengthen US technology and research . But the bill never got a vote in the House of Representatives, and supporters have been working for months to find a way to pass it and get it signed into law.

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Schumer said Tuesday that he expects USICA to be included as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will be tabled in the Senate on Wednesday.

“Chip shortage isn’t some intangible issue — it’s affecting the daily lives of Americans,” Schumer said. “Cars, refrigerators and other home appliances require chips. The lack of supplies means Americans have to wait longer for these essentials.”

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But Senator Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, on Tuesday criticized the chip’s proposal, calling it “corporate welfare, without any strings attached, for a handful of hugely profitable microchip companies.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday he thinks the House should first pass its own version of USICA “and then we can have a convention with the Senate.”

Senator Mark Kelly, also a Democrat, said the United States relies heavily on imported semiconductors. “This plan is in vain,” Kelly said. “There’s no more time to waste on this.”

In an equally divided Senate, every Democratic vote is significant.

Once the Senate approves its version of the NDAA, Senate and House negotiators will work on an agreement.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Businesshala in an interview last week that the administration was working hard to gain USICA approval. “It has to happen by the end of this year. It’s necessary,” Raimondo said.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler

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