The Senate voted 68-32 on Tuesday to pass a $250 billion bill meant to boost the American tech industry, putting it in a better position to compete with China.
The United States Innovation and Competition Act calls for $50 billion in immediate funding for American businesses that make computer chips, the creation of a new technology division within the National Science Foundation to focus on artificial intelligence, and $10 billion to go to the Commerce Department so it can invest in new technology hubs, The Washington Post reports.
"There will be millions of Americans in good-paying jobs because of the investments we're making in the next 10 years," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the lead author of the bill, said. "There will be new industries starting and hopefully, not just in New York City and in San Francisco and in Austin, but also smaller places."
Lawmakers supporting the bill said the United States can't let China dominate emerging tech fields, with Schumer saying he's "watched China take advantage of us in ways legal and illegal over the years. The No. 1 thing China was doing to take advantage of us ... was investing heavily in research and science. And if we didn't do something about it, they would become the No. 1 economy in the world."
In a statement, President Biden said that "as other countries continue to invest in their own research and development, we cannot risk falling behind. America must maintain its position as the most innovative and productive nation on Earth." The bill — which also provides millions of dollars to counter the Chinese Communist Party's political influence — now heads to the House.