By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. legislative proposal to allocate about $110 billion for basic and advanced technology research and science in the face of rising competitive pressure from China will be debated by the Senate Commerce Committee on May 12, sources said on Wednesday.
The bipartisan “Endless Frontier” bill would authorize most of the money, $100 billion, over five years to invest in basic and advanced research, commercialization, and education and training programs in key technology areas, including artificial intelligence, semiconductors, quantum computing, advanced communications, biotechnology and advanced energy.
The bill had been expected to be considered on April 28, but was delayed after more than 230 amendments were filed for consideration. Senate Democrats and Republicans are moving closer to reaching agreement. A congressional aide said “there has been very encouraging progress toward a deal.”
The measure, sponsored by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Republican Senator Todd Young and others, would also authorize another $10 billion to designate at least 10 regional technology hubs and create a supply chain crisis-response program to address issues like the shortfall in semiconductor chips harming auto production.
Many lawmakers want to use the legislation to advance other priorities and attach additional proposals, and some sought to use the bill to speed the deployment of thousands of self-driving cars.
Republican Representative Mike Gallagher, another sponsor, warned earlier that U.S. superiority in science and technology is at risk. “The Chinese Communist Party has used decades of intellectual property theft and industrial espionage to close this technological gap in a way that threatens not only our economic security, but also our way of life,” he said.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, said lawmakers are also likely this month to vote on approving at least $37 billion to fund programs to boost U.S. semiconductor production that was authorized under a law enacted in January.
(Reporting by David Shepardson in WashingtonEditing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)