US Senate leader will add China tech Bill to defence measure

"Our supply chain crisis needs attending to and we cannot wait," Mr Chuck Schumer said. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US Senate Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday (Nov 15) that he will add legislation to boost US competitiveness with China to a massive defence policy Bill the Senate is due to begin considering this week.

It is a boost for a measure that has been stalled for months in the House of Representatives.

"Our supply chain crisis needs attending to and we cannot wait," Mr Schumer said in a Senate speech announcing that the annual National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) would be amended to include the US Innovation and Competition Act, or Usica.

The Senate passed Usica with a strong bipartisan vote in June, but the measure never received a vote in the House of Representatives.

Supporters of the Bill have since been working to find a way to pass it and send it to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law.

Mr Biden is due later on Monday to hold a virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Reuters reported on Sunday that supporters of Usica were considering adding its provisions to the NDAA.

As one of the few major pieces of legislation passed every year, the NDAA often acts as a vehicle for a range of policy issues.

That strategy does not guarantee that Usica will become law, but it increases the chances for some of its most important provisions.

The Senate passed Usica by 68-32. The measure would authorise US$190 billion (S$257.3 billion) spending to strengthen United States technology and research, and an additional US$54 billion to increase production and research into semiconductors and telecommunications equipment.

Once the Senate approves its version of the NDAA, Senate and House negotiators will work on a compromise between the Senate measure and a version of the Bill passed by the House earlier this year.

That compromise must then pass both the House and Senate before it can be sent to Mr Biden.

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