The U.S. Senate took steps on Monday, March 21 to formally move forward with the House-passed America COMPETES Act, paving the way for a formal negotiating conference between the two chambers. The Senate last June passed its bipartisan version of the massive China competition bill, spending over $250 billion to incentivize domestic semiconductor production, research and development for emerging technologies and advanced manufacturing, as well as billions for job training.
The House version of the bill included a number of partisan priorities, such as expansion of unions, that will not make the final version negotiated between the House and Senate in the coming months. Lawmakers in both parties are pushing this legislation in response to China’s technological advancements, supply-chain disruptions and the recognition that the U.S. must become more self-sufficient and rebuild its domestic manufacturing base. The Senate action this week sets up a Conference Committee to likely begin its work in early April with a goal of sending a bill to the White House that President Biden is expected to sign either by Memorial Day or, if negotiations drag on, no later than July 4.