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Reconciliation begins for bipartisan innovation act

Image: mark reinstein, via Shutterstock

Senators and representatives will attempt to reconcile bitterly divergent views

A bicameral conference committee of Congress has finally begun the difficult task of negotiating the much anticipated bipartisan Innovation and Competition Act.

The committee met for the first time on 12 May and is working on merging the competing priorities of the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act and the House’s America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act.

The final package could provide billions of dollars for R&D as well as significant support for expanding domestic semiconductor manufacturing capacity. The legislation is expected to drastically increase funding for the National Science Foundation through, among other things, its provision of millions of dollars for the recently established Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships.

Many lawmakers have already issued statements on their priorities for the innovation package, which is intended to make the US a stronger technological competitor in the global market against countries such as China. Some senators, including Republican Richard Burr, expressed concern that the House version of the bill should not be the baseline for negotiations.

“Unfortunately, the House-passed version of the US Innovation and Competition Act amounts to an unfocused grab bag of unrelated policies,” Burr said. “While the Senate-passed version of the bill was itself deeply flawed and similarly unfocused, it must be the starting point and guide for any successful negotiations.”

Once the conference committee comes to an agreement on the final text of the bill, the House and the Senate will each vote on whether to send the bill to president Joe Biden to be signed into law.