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Dispute over China tech measure delays vote on massive U.S. defense bill -Breaking


© Reuters.

Patricia Zengerle, David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters] – On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate delayed a procedure vote on a $750billion annual defense policy legislation. The delay was caused by members of Congress arguing over whether to include it in legislation to increase U.S. tech competitiveness against China.

Chuck Schumer, Senate Democratic Majority leader, had set a morning procedure vote on National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), however it hadn’t taken place by night and lawmakers suggested that it may slip into the later part of the week.

Schumer announced Monday that he was planning to include the U.S. The Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), Schumer stated Monday, that he planned to add it to the NDAA to allow President Joe Biden to sign it into legislation this year or for the House of Representatives.

The NDAA is one of few important bills that gets passed each year and serves as a platform for a variety of policy issues.

USICA was passed by the Senate with bipartisan support on June 1. The Senate passed USICA with bipartisan support in June. However, the House did not take up the Senate’s measure. House leaders claimed they would have liked to be able to approve their bill but this was never done.

Maria Cantwell (Senator) stated that while the Senate was ahead of Congress in USICA matters, Congress needs to take action. “America’s R&D infrastructure needs to be dusted off,” Cantwell told reporters.

There is opposition to the proposal to merge USICA and NDAA. The top senatorial Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jim Inhofe said that USICA contained too many items that were not relevant to defense.

Some lawmakers argued the combination bill was too generous for corporations.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (who caucuses alongside Democrats) stated in the Senate that combined bills would exceed $1 trillion annually. He argued that too much would be paid to high-profit defence contractors and to semiconductor companies who have moved manufacturing to China. This will take away American jobs and contribute to the global chip shortage.

USICA provides $190 billion and $52 billion in funding to boost U.S. production of semiconductors.

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