US legislation on China to be delayed, lawmakers say

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WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – A US legislative proposal to allocate US$112 billion (S$148.46 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, US Senate Republicans and staffers said on Monday (April 26).

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 than ends May 10.

Senator Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Commerce Committee, told reporters that lawmakers needed more time “for some consensus to develop”.

A spokesman for Senator Todd Young, 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, Mr Young and others, would also authorise another US$10 billion to designate at least 10 regional technology hubs and create a supply chain crisis response programme to address issues like the shortfall in semiconductor chips harming auto production.

A spokesman for Senator Maria Cantwell, who chairs the Commerce Committee, did not immediately comment on Monday night.

Many lawmakers want to use the legislation to advance other priorities and attach additional proposals.

Senators Gary Peters and John Thune want to use the Bill to speed the deployment of thousands of self-driving cars.

Republican Representative Mike Gallagher, another sponsor, said US 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”.

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