Mitch McConnell vowed to effectively destroy the big bipartisan legislation if Democrats pursue their own plan.
McConnell’s statement is a major and arguably fatal setback to a protracted effort to pass a China law.
Lawmakers on both sides have moved to boost the US semiconductor industry, which is a key part of the plan.
Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday that he would block progress on President Joe Biden’s grand bipartisan semiconductor bill designed to thwart China if Democrats continue to pursue a separate economic plan created from the ashes of Build Back Better.
“Let me be perfectly clear: There will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats push for a partisan appeasement bill,” McConnell tweeted.
In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office labeled McConnell an instrument of the “Chinese Communist Party.”
“Make no mistake, Senator McConnell is now siding with the Chinese Communist Party against American workers and American industry,” Pelosi spokesman Henry Connelly said. wrote on Twitter. “And why? So that the GOP’s friends at Big Pharma can continue to cheat Americans who are struggling to pay for their prescriptions.”
McConnell’s statement is anything but the death knell for bipartisan talks that have continued throughout the year as both chambers made their own sweeping plans to revive the US supply chain amid China’s rise. It comes as Democrats get closer to closing a deal to reinvigorate their stalled party climate and health care bill.
Democratic and Republican leaders have been constantly arguing over the scope of China’s law during negotiations this year. Republicans urged Democrats to remove provisions on trade, labor and immigration to keep it smaller. Part of the bill set aside $52 billion to support the US semiconductor industry during a chip shortage, a key Democratic priority.
Centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are the main voices on Biden’s stalled economic agenda. All 50 Senate Democrats must work together to move the smaller spending bill forward with a casting vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.
Spokespersons for Manchin and Sinema did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Biden and the White House have repeatedly made it clear that passing the China law is a high priority. The legislation, the USICA or United States Innovation and Competition Act, is sometimes simply referred to as the China Act. It’s so huge it has built a reputation for all the different special interest provisions that have made their way into the text.
Commerce Minister Gina Raimondo has repeatedly warned that failure to pass the legislation could have devastating consequences. Raimondo said on CNBC on Monday: that GlobalWafers may not push through its plans to build a $5 billion plant in Texas if the bill fails.
“It has to be done before they go to the August recess,” said Raimondo, who has been closely involved in the talks. “I don’t know how to put it more clearly. This deal…will disappear, I think, if Congress doesn’t act.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was the author of the Senate version of the bill, a sign of how serious leadership is in passing it. Biden also pushed it during his State of the Union address in March. The Senate approved its $250 billion package last June. The House of Representatives submitted its own plan in February. Both sides have been months trying to figure out the details.
“To compete for the best jobs of the future, we also need to level the playing field with China and other competitors,” Biden said during his speech. “That’s why it’s so important to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act in Congress that will make record investments in emerging technologies and U.S. manufacturing.”
Read the original article Business Insider