Legislation to confront China’s growing economic influence on the United States passed the Senate on Tuesday, June 8, making it a rare bipartisan bill approved by Democratic and Republican senators.
The Senate voted 68-32 for the bill, which seeks to invest more than $200 billion in American technology, science, and research to combat China’s competitiveness, CNN reported.
Nineteen Republicans and one Democrat voted against the legislation. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the only member of the Democratic caucus opposing the passage.
The bill, known as the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, builds off a proposal introduced last year by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.).
The measure will provide $120 billion for the National Science Foundation, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration to invest in a new tech directorate to spur U.S. technology innovation, The Hill reported, citing a Senate Democratic summary.
The legislation will also invest $52 billion in semiconductor provisions and include measures to crack down on U.S. reliance on Chinese companies and technology.
There are also additional investments in cybersecurity and biotechnology.
The bill also requires that the United States produce the iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in federally funded infrastructure projects.
The legislation now moves to the House before going to the desk of President Joe Biden, who also backs it.
Though Schumer claimed that the measure “will supercharge American innovation and preserve our competitive edge for generations to come,” it remains difficult for U.S. companies to challenge China, taking advantage of its superiority in the manufacturing sector with unnatural cheap labor costs.
China has a system of labor camps that the country has built to exploit cheap labor from prisoners, including prisoners of conscience. The largest population of prisoners of conscience are reportedly Falun Gong practitioners who receive long sentences and get the worst treatment.
Falun Gong, a spiritual practice based on the moral principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance, has been exercised in many countries, including the United States. Still, it has been prohibited in China since former Chinese Communist Party Secretary-General Jiang Zemin launched a campaign to repress its practitioners in July 1999. As a result, millions of them were detained and forced to work in detention facilities and labor camps, where they got no pay or meager wages.
Labor is one of the major parts of the total cost of a product, in addition to capital and technology. Many state-owned manufacturing companies in China have tapped low-cost labor from the Falun Dafa detainees to make their fortunes by competing unfairly with other countries.
Although President Biden could get the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act on his desk, his administration has no way to compete against the Chinese Communist Party-backed corporations if the U.S. government does not deal with human rights issues in China.