House passes America COMPETES Act to take on China

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The House approved legislation Friday that Democrats say would boost America’s economic competitiveness with China by investing in several sectors to ease the supply chain crisis and fund research and development efforts — but Republicans say the bill does not go far enough.

The measure, known as the America COMPETES Act, passed 222-210 in a near-party line vote. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) voted “aye” with 221 Democrats, while Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) voted against the bill with 209 Republicans.

The bill includes $52 billion in grants and subsidies to incentivize the production of semiconductors in the US. Another $45 billion would go to strengthen supply chains for high-tech products.

The legislation would also fund a government program to aid workers who lost jobs or saw their pay cut as a result of increased imports, as well as boost funds for the National Science Foundation and STEM education programs. 

Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi says the America COMPETES Act protects America’s national and economic security.
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Semiconductors
The bill contains $52 Billion to subsidize semiconductor manufacturing in the US, and contains funds for workers who lost jobs due to increased imports.
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Top Democrats lauded the legislation as a necessary step to help revive the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic and turn back China’s efforts to overtake the US in global influence.

“It’s an imperative for America’s security and the financial security of America’s workers and our families that we are self‑sufficient,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference on Thursday. “COMPETES meets this challenge.”

GOP lawmakers blasted the bill, noting that it reduced funding for areas like technology and research compared to a bipartisan version that passed the Senate last year.

“The generational threat of the Chinese Communist Party is a test not only for our national security but for American values. Sadly, this bill fails that test,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on the floor ahead of the vote. “The CCP exploits our economy … they’re using American intellectual property to further their genocide.”

“This isn’t just a security issue, it’s a moral issue,” McCaul added. “Yet this bill takes no meaningful steps to keep US technology out of the hands of the CCP’s military. Even worse, my Democratic colleagues have refused safeguards that would stop this money from financing slave labor and genocide in the Xinjiang province.”

Republicans also expressed outrage at a visa cap carveout program, which the Republican Study Committee argued in a recent memo to lawmakers would allow CCP members “to take advantage of the new visa program to carry out their malign activity” and provide “more opportunities for China to steal our intellectual property.”

GOPers further took issue with sections of the bill that provide $8 billion to the UN Green Climate Fund, which helps developing countries adjust to climate change; $3 billion for facilities to make the US less reliant on Chinese solar components; $4 billion to help communities with significantly higher unemployment than the national average; and $10.5 billion for states to stockpile drugs and medical equipment.

Michael McCaul
Rep. Michael McCaul says the bill fails to prevent the Chinese military from obtaining US technology.
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“Democrats are using the China issue which has broad, bipartisan public support as a cover to pass their liberal agenda. How else can we explain the many harmful provisions stuffed within this fake China bill that have nothing to do with China?” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) said in a statement following the bill’s passage, noting that the legislation contained “more references to ‘coral reefs’ than the word ‘China.’”

House and Senate negotiators still have to put together a compromise version of the bill, which must pass both chambers before it can be sent to President Biden’s desk.

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