House Democrats move ahead with bill to boost innovation

4 minutes
House Democrats move ahead with bill to boost innovation

House Democrats are maneuvering to quickly pass legislation to stimulate the semiconductor industry and support innovation by adding parts of a congressional bill passed this week on an existing measure, as they aim to face the economic challenge from China.

Under the plan considered, the House Science Committee would amend a measure on which it is now expected to begin working on next week to wrap in elements of the $250 billion package that cleared the Senate in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

The goal is to win a version of the law by August, an outcome that would hand Joe Biden a major bipartisan victory. The Senate bill calls for $52 billion in funding to boost U.S. output of computer chips after a shortage that slowed production in automotive sector and other industries.

The measures won't include some of the provisions directly targeting China, including research and innovation grants for universities, which the majority said the Republican people at the Senate agreed to reject and progressive Democrats.

Several other houses, including the Foreign Affairs Committee, are working on related parts that would probably have to be combined.

It has been expected that the eventual House legislation will emerge close enough to the Senate bill to allow them to be consolidated by a House-Senate conference committee, the person said. Although it would strike out some of the elements of the Senate bill brought in during the month of debate, the goal is to reach a final product that would satisfy the Democrats without losing too many Republican votes.

Nancy Pelosi hasn't publicly committed to a timetable, and a House official said the chamber will develop its own version of the legislation through various committees.

However, the White House has made clear that they want a final bill quickly.

Biden supports the U.S. presidential elections strongly '' The White House spokesman Michael Gwin said of the Innovation and Competition Act, referring to the title of the bill in the Senate. Biden and administration officials will maintain close contact with leaders in both the House and Senate on the path forward, including while the President is in Europe. He will sign the bill as soon as possible.

The National Science Foundation is scheduled to begin work on Tuesday on two pieces of legislation related to bolstering America’s innovation, including one sponsored by Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson to bolster research through the House Science Space and Technology Committee. She criticised some of the Senate's approach.

I remain concerned that the proposal from the Senate, with its focus on technology development, strays too far in the direction of imposing a new, ill-fitting mission on NSF, she said in a statement Thursday. To continue to build on a good road map for NSF, I hope that we have the opportunity at a house-house Senate conference.

Chuck Schumer, who sponsored the original Senate bill with Indiana Republican Senator Todd Young, known as Endless Frontiers, has been pressing the House to act. The Wisconsin Democrat Mike Gallagher and the California Democrat Ro Khanna introduced the House version of Schumer’s original measure.

Schumer is going to work with Speaker Pelosi and the relevant committee chairs in the house to move this bill as quickly as possible, said Schumer on the Senate floor Thursday. It is vital to our nation's future that the House and Senate must come together to sign President Biden with a bill that he can bring into law.

Other Senators have urged the House Democrats to lean on Biden.

The Democratic Virginia Senator Mark Warner, who helped usher in a proposal to provide $52 billion to support domestic semiconductor manufacturing, said he hopes the Biden administration will make clear to their allies in the House what importance this is.

A White House official said the administration has briefed its leadership on its priorities, including provisions on supply chain resiliency, regional technology hubs and research and development.

The legislation would check off two priorities that have some bipartisan support : ramping up US research and development to compete with China and boosting the supply chain for semiconductor chips needed for everything from cars to consumer electronics.

As Biden's talks with Republicans about his infrastructure proposal drag on, bipartisan package offers a chance for a major competitive bill before the midterm elections in 2022. After the turbulence of the Trump years, Biden and Democrats, who control both houses of Congress, are looking at demonstrating to voters that they have the ability to deliver.

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