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5 Feb, 2022 01:04

China ‘competition’ bill clears US House

The legislation passed with near unanimous support from Democrats
China ‘competition’ bill clears US House

The US House of Representatives has passed a multi-billion-dollar bill that seeks to bolster the country’s competitiveness with China, setting aside more than $100 billion to subsidize manufacturers and patch up ailing supply chains battered by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers voted 222-210, largely along party lines, to pass the ‘America COMPETES Act of 2022’ on Friday, with all but one Democrat backing the measure and only a single Republican voting in its favor.

The House version of the expansive bill includes $52 billion in subsidies for semiconductor manufacturers – which produce crucial parts for computers, cars and other electronics – as well as $45 billion over the next six years to help supply chains get back to normal amid ongoing shortages. It devoted another $8 billion for the Green Climate Fund, a body established in 2010 to combat climate change in developing nations.

Friday’s vote followed days of debate on hundreds of amendments for the 2,900-page legislation, including a provision that will change US trade regulations in order to offset ‘dumping’ by Chinese firms – a practice in which a producer sells goods in a foreign market for exceptionally low prices, often below the cost of production. The anti-dumping measure ultimately made it into the House version of the bill. 

The Senate already passed its own iteration of the bill in June, which must now be reconciled with the House legislation before it can be enacted into law by President Joe Biden.

Though a number of Republicans have voiced support for the overall goal of improving the US’ ability to compete with Beijing, some, such as Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, insisted that Democrats were using the bill as “cover for their liberal agenda,” asking, “How else can we explain the many harmful provisions stuffed within this fake China bill that have nothing to do with China?”

The bill’s sole GOP backer in the House – Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who penned some of the measures pertaining to supply chains – argued the bill was “long overdue,” while Florida Democrat Stephanie Murphy said she opposed the legislation due to “problematic” and “poorly-vetted” trade provisions.