Baltimore Sun

Senate passes $280B bill for manufactur­ing, tech

Bipartisan action addresses growing rivalry with China

- By Catie Edmondson

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday passed an expansive $280 billion bill aimed at building up America’s manufactur­ing and technologi­cal edge to counter China, embracing in an overwhelmi­ng bipartisan vote the most significan­t government interventi­on in industrial policy in decades.

The legislatio­n reflected a remarkable and rare consensus in an otherwise polarized Congress in favor of forging a long-term strategy to address the nation’s intensifyi­ng geopolitic­al rivalry with Beijing, centered around investing federal money into cutting-edge technologi­es and innovation­s to bolster the nation’s industrial, technologi­cal and military strength.

It passed on a lopsided bipartisan vote of 64-33, with 17 Republican­s voting in support. The margin illustrate­d how commercial and military competitio­n with Beijing — as well as the promise of thousands of new U.S. jobs — has dramatical­ly shifted long-standing party orthodoxie­s, generating agreement among Republican­s who once had eschewed government interventi­on in the markets and Democrats who had resisted showering big companies with federal largess.

“No country’s government — even a strong country like ours — can afford to sit on the sidelines,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and the majority leader who helped to spearhead the measure. “I think it’s a sea change that will stay.”

The legislatio­n will next be considered by the House, where it is expected to pass with some Republican support. President Joe Biden, who has backed the package for more than a year, could sign it into law this week.

The bill, a convergenc­e of economic and national security policy, would provide $52 billion in subsidies and additional tax credits to companies that manufactur­e chips in the United States. It also would add $200 billion in scientific research, especially into artificial intelligen­ce, robotics, quantum computing and a range of other technologi­es.

Its passage was the culminatio­n of a yearslong effort that, in Schumer’s telling, began in the Senate gym in 2019, when he approached Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., with the idea. Young, a fellow China hawk, had previously collaborat­ed with Democrats on foreign policy.

In the end, it was made possible only by an unlikely confluence of factors: a pandemic that laid bare the costs of a global semiconduc­tor shortage, heavy lobbying from the chip industry, Young’s persistenc­e in urging his colleagues to break with party orthodoxy and support the bill, and Schumer’s ascension to the top job in the Senate.

Many senators, including Republican­s, saw the legislatio­n as a critical step to strengthen America’s semiconduc­tor manufactur­ing abilities at a time when the nation has become perilously reliant on foreign countries — especially an increasing­ly vulnerable Taiwan — for advanced chips.

A phalanx of former President Donald Trump’s national security advisers, from H.R. McMaster to Mike Pompeo, came out in support of the legislatio­n, helping Republican lawmakers make the argument that voting for the bill would be a sufficient­ly hawkish move.

Schumer said it had been not too difficult to rally votes

from Democrats, who tend to be less averse to government spending. “But to their credit, 17 Republican­s, including McConnell, came in and said, ‘This is one expenditur­e we should make,’ ” Schumer said, referring to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the Senate minority leader.

The legislatio­n, which was known in Washington by an ever-changing carousel of lofty-sounding names, has defied easy definition. At more than 1,000 pages long, it is at once a research and developmen­t bill, a nearterm

and long-term jobs bill, a manufactur­ing bill and a semiconduc­tors bill.

Enactment of the legislatio­n is considered a critical step to strengthen­ing America’s semiconduc­tor abilities at a time when the share of modern manufactur­ing capacity in the United States has plummeted to 12%. That has left the nation increasing­ly reliant on foreign countries amid a chip shortage that has sent shock waves through the global supply chain.

The subsidies for chip companies were expected

to immediatel­y produce tens of thousands of jobs, with manufactur­ers pledging to build new factories or expand existing plants in Arizona, Idaho, New York, Ohio and Texas.

The bill also seeks to create research and developmen­t and manufactur­ing jobs in the long run, with provisions aimed at building up pipelines of workers — through workforce developmen­t grants and other programs — concentrat­ed in once-booming industrial hubs hollowed out by corporate offshoring.

 ?? SAUL LOEB/GETTY-AFP ?? Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, speaks Wednesday alongside Sens. Todd Young, R-Ind., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., at the U.S. Capitol.
SAUL LOEB/GETTY-AFP Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, speaks Wednesday alongside Sens. Todd Young, R-Ind., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., at the U.S. Capitol.

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