House leaders almost agree on stalled Chinese competition law

The US House of Representatives is preparing to move forward with a draft China competitiveness bill that would allow billions of dollars in funding to boost US research and development, as well as aid to the domestic semiconductor industry, a senior aide said.

The move comes after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a deal in November to find a way to get the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act through Congress after the Senate had passed it in June. The bipartisan legislation is a key legislative priority for Schumer and the Biden administration.

There is no timing for a vote yet, but supporters of the bill say agreement on the content must be reached before the midterm election campaigns are in full swing and a compromise becomes even more difficult in the Capitol.

The government has urged the House leadership to take action against the measure, including the nearly $52 billion in subsidies and incentives it would provide to the semiconductor industry amid a global chip shortage.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and President Joe Biden were expected to reach Pelosi directly about the package, according to Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican and semiconductor supply sponsor, who said he had spoken to Raimondo about the matter.

Pelosi has instructed the chairs of several committees — including Science, Foreign Affairs, and Energy and Commerce — to draft proposals for a piece of legislation that the House could take to a conference with the Senate, with the goal of getting a bill that would pass both chambers. agree on. The House Science Committee has previously passed several bipartisan measures that contained similar elements to the Senate bill, but were not packaged together.

The State Department, which is expected to play a major role in legislation, last year approved a China competitiveness bill that Republicans attacked Beijing too softly and paid too much attention to climate change. That bill has since stalled in the House of Representatives.

Secretary of State Gregory Meeks reiterated his commitment to the climate portions of the bill in November, saying it was “hugely important” and that he would not simply approve what the Senate had passed.

The bill has a narrow path to success in the House — much narrower in some ways than in the Senate, where it came through with a score of 68-32. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Oregon, the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, called an earlier version of USICA a repeat of “the mistakes of the Obama-Biden administration.” And the Republican Study Committee, which has a large number of members in the House, has also panned the legislation.

Progressive Concerns

At the other end of the political spectrum, some progressive groups have criticized the bill as focusing too aggressively on competition with China — an approach they believe could spark another cold war. They argue for a more collaborative approach in a letter posted on the Quincy Institute’s website in May.

But business groups, including the Semiconductor Industry Association, have pushed Congress to pass a bill that would tackle competition with China, specifically boosting domestic chip production.

The chief executives of several companies, including Tim Cook of Apple Inc., Sundar Pichai of Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Mary Barra of General Motors Co. wrote a letter at the end of last year calling on Congress to approve the measure.

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