In a statement U.S. House and Senate leaders stated, lawmakers will try to reach a final agreement on a bill aimed at boosting the competitiveness of U.S. technology vis-à-vis China’s semiconductor manufacturing.
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had sought to attach the bill to a $750 billion annual defense policy proposal. He said on Monday he planned to add the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), hoping to get it passed so President Joe Biden can sign it into law this year.
USICA includes $52 billion to increase U.S. semiconductor production and authorizes $190 billion to strengthen U.S. technology and research to compete with China.
But the plan to merger the USICA and the NDAA faced headwinds with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying “Senate Republicans made it clear they would block the inclusion of USICA on the NDAA.”
In June, although the Senate passed USICA with bipartisan support, the House of Representatives never took up the Senate-passed measure. House leaders said earlier they wanted to pass their own bill, but never did.
Schumer and Pelosi said they would now enter formal negotiations on USICA by going to “conference.”
“Working with President Biden, the House and Senate have been crafting bipartisan legislation to bolster American manufacturing, fix our supply chains, and invest in the next generation of cutting-edge technology research,” said the two while adding, “There are still a number of important unresolved issues.”
In a statement Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell said, the Senate got ahead of the House on USICA and that the US Congress must act quickly.
“America’s R&D infrastructure needs to be dusted off,” she said.
According to Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, the combined NDAA and USICA would be worth more than $1 trillion in one year. A significant portion of this amount would go to high-profit defense contractors and semiconductor firms that shifted manufacturing to China, taking away U.S. jobs and contributing to the current worldwide chip shortage.