WASHINGTON: The US Senate on Wednesday passed an expansive $280-billion bill aimed at building up America’s manufacturing and technological edge to counter China, embracing in an overwhelming bipartisan vote the most significant government intervention in industrial policy in decades.
The legislation reflected a rare consensus in a polarised Congress to address the country’s intensifying geopolitical rivalry with Beijing. The plan is centered around investing federal money into cutting-edge technologies and innovations to bolster industrial, technological and military strength.
The bipartisan support illustrated how commercial and military competition with Beijing – as well as the promise of new jobs – has shifted party orthodoxies, generating agreement among Republicans who once eschewed government intervention in the markets and Democrats who had resisted showering big companies with federal largess.
The legislation will next be considered by the House, where it is expected to pass with some Republican support. US President Joe Biden, who has backed the package for more than a year, could sign it into law as early as this week.
The bill, a convergence of economic and national security policy, would provide $52 billion in subsidies and additional tax credits to companies that manufacture chips in the US. It also would add $200 billion for scientific research, especially into AI, robotics and quantum computing.
The effort has marked a foray into industrial policy that has had little precedent in recent history, raising questions about how the Biden administration and Congress would implement and oversee a major initiative involving hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.