Senate Weighs Investing $120 Billion in Science to Counter China

This post was originally published on this site

“This would really put the spotlight on that next stage of innovation,” said Debbie Altenburg, an associate vice president at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. “There is a significant investment in scholarships and fellowships and traineeships, so that we are also making sure that we’re investing in domestic work force.”

Yet the issue of how to mete out the research money has been hotly debated. Mr. Young’s complaints last week came as he unsuccessfully tried to block a bipartisan push to steer about half of the funding — all of which was initially intended for new initiatives at the National Science Foundation — to labs across the country run by the Energy Department.

A bipartisan group of senators who have one or more department-run labs in their states, including Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a critical Democratic vote, and Ben Ray Luján, Democrat of New Mexico, had clamored for the change.

Mr. Young had argued that the bill should devote money only toward applied research that would yield a tangible product to help the United States compete with China. But many lawmakers in both parties — including on the House science committee, which also must approve the legislation — have instead worked to divert it to labs in their states and districts that conduct basic research.

Other senators also seized on the opportunity to insert pet provisions into the bill.

Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State, the chairwoman of the commerce committee, added an entire authorizing bill for NASA, as well as provisions that would help Boeing, based in her state. A group of Republicans led by Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee inserted a measure requiring the government to study whether the Chinese government was using sister city partnerships as a vehicle for espionage.

Senators also approved a provision by Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan, to pump $2 billion into the semiconductor industry, in an attempt to blunt the shortages that have shuttered auto plants in Detroit and elsewhere.

Mr. Schumer announced on Tuesday evening that lawmakers would also consider additional funding for legislation that was passed last year to bolster the semiconductor industry. Negotiations had become ensnared in a partisan labor dispute over whether to require manufacturers to pay their employees the prevailing wage.