The Senate on Thursday was on the brink of passing expansive legislation to ramp up research and development into scientific innovation, advancing what would be the government’s first significant foray into industrial policy in decades in a bid to bolster competitiveness against China.
Powered by rising fears among members of both parties that the United States is losing its edge against China and other authoritarian governments that have invested heavily in developing cutting-edge technologies, the measure would pour about $195 billion into research in a host of sectors, including manufacturing and the semiconductor industry.
Negotiations on the legislation stretched into Thursday night as senators haggled behind closed doors over last-minute changes, delaying an expected vote into Friday and temporarily stranding lawmakers in Washington ahead of a holiday weekend.
But the measure had broad support, reflecting a bipartisan sense of urgency to act amid a pandemic that has highlighted Beijing’s chokehold on critical supply chains, including a global semiconductor shortage that has shuttered American automobile factories and slowed the delivery of consumer electronics.
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