Committee ranking members signed a letter to Democratic leadership urging them to take advantage of the bipartisan support for passing legislation to boost U.S. innovation
House Republicans are calling on Democratic leadership to move any legislation related to strategic competition with China—such as the Senate’s recently rebranded U.S. Innovation and Competition Act—through regular order rather than alternatives like reconciliation.
Led by Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., the ranking members of every House committee signed and sent a letter Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., stressing they use the “window of opportunity” created by bipartisan interest to negotiate legislation rather than resort to “legislative gimmicks.”
During a press call, Lucas said he doesn’t know for certain whether Democrats will try to use something like reconciliation to pass China legislation, but he suggested tools like reconciliation will be the “default mode” for House and Senate leadership. Democrats hold both chambers by narrow margins and recently used budget reconciliation to fast-track COVID relief legislation.
“This is so important, we just need a freestanding bill, and whether it's a giant conference committee or an orderly pre-conference committee, work out the differences between the two bodies,” Lucas, who is the ranking member of the House Science Committee, said during the press call. The two houses need to focus on finding the right funding levels, he added.
While not referenced by name in the letter, the Innovation and Competition Act, the new and expanded version of the Endless Frontier Act, is one of its main targets. The bill is expansive: It would create a new directorate at the National Science Foundation for technology and innovation as well as funds the CHIPS for America Act, which incentivizes production of semiconductors, and provides $1.5 billion for 5G innovation, to name a few provisions.
“We are pleased to see that the Senate is working to confront the [Chinese Communist Party’s] threats to the critical nexus we have identified between American technological competitiveness, economic growth, and national security,” the letter reads. “While we may not agree on all of the policies currently under consideration in the Senate, we appreciate that there is widespread recognition of the dangers we face from Communist leadership in China, and a willingness to take action.”
In the letter, Republicans also urged a consideration of necessary regulatory reforms, intellectual property protection, national security and topline defense spending. President Joe Biden’s skinny budget proposal for discretionary spending did not live up to the 3 to 5% increase in defense spending some Republicans demand. Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the top Republicans on the Senate Armed Services and Senate Appropriations, committees respectively, offered an amendment to the Innovation and Competition Act that would push Congress toward dollar-for-dollar spending parity between defense and non-defense spending. Biden’s full budget request is expected May 28.