Under the shadow of growing tensions with Beijing, the US House of Representatives has approved a bill that will help the United States remain economically competitive with China. It must now be reconciled with similar legislation passed by the Senate last year.
Congress must not allow party-political quarrels to reject this important proposal.
Republicans who supported the U.S. Senate law on innovation and competition in the United States have so far turned their backs on the House version, known as the America COMPETES Act, saying the bill contains unacceptable provisions related to labor, foreign policy and climate change.
Although differences exist – and their benefits are worth discussing – both bills promise to fund the critical need to address supply chain vulnerabilities and increase the production of computer chips in the United States. They also include a major investment in securing the United States’ place as a leader in scientific research and innovation.
These similarities should be in focus, said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, (D-Wash.), Who heads the Senate Committee on Trade, Science and Transportation. Both bills require an investment of $ 52 billion in the semiconductor industry, about $ 160 billion for research and development agencies like the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, as well as funding to reduce the STEM workforce.
“This would be the largest five-year commitment to public research and development in our nation’s history,” Cantwell said. “We need it for job growth. We need it to stay competitive.”
The legislation would also create some manufacturing jobs in the U.S., but the benefit to U.S. workers may be strongest in improved protection against global market volatility, said Jeffrey Kucik, an associate professor at the University of Arizona.
“It’s about isolating the domestic market from unpredictable global forces,” he said. “Whether it’s the pandemic or the Great Recession or the shock associated with the escalation of the US-China trade war.”
For their part, Chinese officials have repeatedly labeled these legislative efforts as a product of a “Cold War mentality.”
It was therefore ironic to see Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet warmly on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Even more was their joint declaration, which sent a message of cooperation between the two countries not seen since Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
Their statement, which includes support for each other’s foreign policy, underlines the precarious situation surrounding existential threats to Ukraine and Taiwan. It also underscores the need for Congress to act.
These bills are not about seeing the United States’ relationship with China as a zero-sum game from the Cold War. They are smart efforts to ensure that America remains competitive. But in cooperation, Republicans and Democrats can send their own message of unity in the face of global challenges.
– The Seattle Times