The US Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill to boost American semiconductor production and the development of artificial intelligence and other technology in the face of growing international competition, most notably from China.
The 68-32 vote for the bill on Tuesday demonstrates how confronting China economically is an issue that unites both parties in Congress. It is a rare unifying issue in an era of division as pressure grows on Democrats to change Senate rules to push past Republican opposition and gridlock.
The centerpiece of the bill is a $50bn emergency allotment to the US commerce department to boost semiconductor development and manufacturing through research and incentive programs previously authorised by Congress. Overall, the bill would increase spending by about $250bn, with most of the spending occurring in the first five years.
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, which earlier passed a different version. The two will have to be reconciled into a single bill before it is sent to the White House for the president’s signature.