Both Republican and Democratic Legislative Agendas Have Technology R&D to Thwart China in Common
(ForeignPolicy) Only one issue might bring together a Democratic-led House and an odds-on Republican-controlled Senate: China. The two parties might be divided on almost everything else, but their legislative agendas for China have a lot in common. Both propose increasing support for research and development and securing vulnerable U.S. supply chains. Neither is shy about challenging Chinese actions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. China will be one of the very few areas likely to see real legislative movement.
Science and technology research is one of the most promising areas for bipartisan cooperation. The Made in China 2025 initiative helped wake American policymakers up to China’s technology ambitions, but COVID-19 more than anything else focused lawmakers’ attention on China. Members of Congress have proposed a number of bills all aimed at preserving America’s technological edge.
The Republican China Task Force report recommends doubling federal funding for basic research, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives. “It’s nice to see science and technology coming to the front,” said Jennifer Wickre, a senior Republican policy advisor for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
The disagreement is around how to spend this vast flow of new money. Both parties support applied research in a few key sectors—semiconductors, telecommunications, quantum computing, and AI are all on the table. Republicans, however, prefer that the government mostly stick to basic research. “There’s a philosophical belief [among Republicans] that the role of the U.S. government is on the basic research side,” Wickre said.