President Joe Biden said on May 3 that the Chinese regime is trying to influence the outcome of legislation aimed at bolstering U.S. competitiveness against Beijing.
“Fundamentally, this is a national security issue. This is one of the reasons why the Chinese Communist Party is lobbying folks to oppose this bill,” Biden said. “And it’s an issue that unites Democrats and Republicans. So let’s get it done.”
The House version of the bill was approved in February, on a mostly party-line 222–210 vote. In the following month, the Senate bill was passed in a 68–28 vote, with 27 of the 28 senators who voted against it being Republicans. The legislation is known as the COMPETES Act, with one of the key provisions being to provide billions to support the U.S. semiconductor industry.
Biden made the remarks in Troy, Alabama, during a tour of a plant belonging to U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin. The rest of his remarks focused mainly on the Ukraine war.
To make his case about the need for the legislation, Biden pointed to how a single Javelin anti-tank missile requires 200 semiconductors. Ukrainian forces have used the missiles to fight back against the Russian invasion.
“That’s why we are making it as hard as we can for Russia to get a hold of semiconductors and advanced technologies that it could use to upgrade its military during this conflict, and why we’re taking steps to make it easier to source what we need here in the United States during a global semiconductor shortage,” Biden said.
Now, the two chambers of Congress will start negotiations to reconcile differences in the respective bills before a final version can be sent to the president’s desk.
The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
By Frank Fang