The Senate looks forward to a vote on a computer chip bill that dramatically reduces US-China competition plans

Schumer’s move comes as the Biden administration is attacking Capitol Hill and pushing for stand-alone legislation to boost computer chip production. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, in particular, urged lawmakers to abandon the broader China-focused legislation that chip funding has been paired with, and work on the chip portion alone to address national security and supply chain concerns — a point she reiterated after a briefing to House members Thursday.

“If we don’t get through this, we will wake up, and other countries will get this [chip] investments, and we will say, “Why didn’t we do that?” He urged lawmakers to pass the funding next week.

“We want a bill as strong as possible,” she said, but added, “All options are on the table because time is running out.”

Moving ahead with chip funding next week means much of the bigger Chinese competition package will likely end up in the chopping room. Some lawmakers were already lamenting that months of work focused on the trade relationship with Beijing might be in vain.

“It would be unfortunate. It would be a chip bill, which is critical, but it would not be a strategic bill for China,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (DN.J.), whose committee has crafted a key China policy section of the legislation. .

There’s no guarantee that enough Republicans will vote to break the stall on the watered-down legislation, especially with so much uncertainty about what other provisions could be added.

“We’re now at a point where I don’t think anyone really knows what the final bill might look like, or sort of where the votes are,” said Senate John Thune (RS.D). We know where the votes were last. But that was a different time and a different bill than what we’re talking about today.”

Menendez blamed McConnell for the bottom line, citing the Republican leader’s threat to derail China’s larger competition package if Democrats move forward with separate plans to pass a partisan tax and climate package. But McConnell — who later suggested separating the chip funding portion and passing it as standalone — wasn’t the only factor standing in the way of the broader bill, which also sank into a stalemate across the Capitol.

For the better part of three months, the House and Senate tried, unsuccessfully, to iron out differences in their Chinese competition bills. As a result, there was a growing belief on Capitol Hill that Congress should simply pass the chip funding as a separate bill before August, given the urgent desire to increase domestic production.

The question is, what can we override in the closing window we have here before the August holiday? Senator said. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the main sponsor of chip terms on the larger bill. The “plus sign” is not specified. “

Other additions to semiconductor funding may be included if lawmakers can reach an agreement in time, the person familiar with the Senate plans said.

Differences in how to deal with trade policy with Beijing — in particular, former President Donald Trump’s legacy of tariffs — have been a major sticking point in talks between the House and Senate that have stymied final passage for months. If lawmakers from the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee cannot reach agreement on these provisions, they will likely be dropped from the final bill.

“It is not always easy to reconcile differences between the House and the Senate,” Ben Cardin (Democrat), the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, lamented.

The potential add-on with a better chance of survival in any eventual “extra chips” deal is an adjustment that requires enhanced government scrutiny of US investments in China. Cornyn and other lawmakers in both parties worked for several months with the administration to improve this part, which was included in the House version of the bill but excluded from the Senate.

The White House this week reiterated its support for the effort, and lawmakers can attach the screening clause to the final bill even if other China-related trade provisions are not included.

With the impasse between the two houses continuing, some lawmakers have been simply asking the House of Representatives to pass the Senate-approved Chinese competition law – which now seems unlikely.

This week, the Biden administration stepped in with classified briefings for all senators and members of the House of Representatives, urging a swift pass to fund the chips.

Many weak House Democrats have long hoped to point to chip funding as evidence that they and the Biden administration are responding to the inflation and supply chain crunch ahead of the November midterm elections.

On Wednesday, Front Lines Member, Rep. Elisa Slotkin (Democrat – Michigan), She criticized her party leadership For lack of strategy to pass the chip bill. “A briefing is not a plan,” she said. “Get a plan.”

Jordan Carney contributed to this report.

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