US Legislation on China to Be Delayed, Lawmakers Say

April 27, 2021 Updated: April 27, 2021

WASHINGTON—A U.S. legislative proposal to allocate $112 billion for basic and advanced technology research and science in the face of rising competitive pressure from China will be delayed by at least two weeks, U.S. Senate Republicans and staffers said Monday.

The bipartisan “Endless Frontier” measure was scheduled to be debated by the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday, having been formally introduced on April 21. But with more than 230 amendments filed for consideration, Senate Republicans said the markup would not go forward until after a one-week Senate recess ends May 10.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the top Republican on the Commerce Committee, told reporters that lawmakers needed more time “for some consensus to develop.”

A spokesman for Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), the primary Republican sponsor, told Reuters the bill will not be heard in committee “this week but we expect it to happen after the recess.”

The measure, sponsored by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Young, and others, would also authorize another $10 billion to designate at least 10 regional technology hubs and create a supply chain crisis response program to address issues like the shortfall in semiconductor chips harming auto production.

A spokesman for Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who chairs the Commerce Committee, did not immediately comment Monday night.

Many lawmakers want to use the legislation to advance other priorities and attach additional proposals. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) want to use the bill to speed the deployment of thousands of self-driving cars.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), another sponsor, said U.S. superiority in science and technology “is at risk. The Chinese Communist Party has used decades of intellectual property theft and industrial espionage to close this technological gap in a way that threatens not only our economic security, but also our way of life.”

Schumer said separately last week he will push for “emergency spending” to implement semiconductor manufacturing provisions in last year’s defense bill.

By David Shepardson