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Senate Passes $280 Billion Industrial Policy Bill to Counter China

The effort has marked a foray into industrial policy that has had little precedent in recent American history, raising myriad questions about how the Biden administration and Congress would implement and oversee a major initiative involving hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.

The passage of the legislation was the culmination of years of effort that in Mr. Schumer’s telling began in the Senate gym in 2019, when he approached Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, with the idea. Mr. Young, a fellow China hawk, had previously collaborated with Democrats on foreign policy.

In the end, the Senate support was made possible only by an unlikely collision of factors: a pandemic that laid bare the costs of a global semiconductor shortage, heavy lobbying from the chip industry, Mr. Young’s persistence in urging his colleagues to break with party orthodoxy and support the bill, and Mr. Schumer’s ascension to the top job in the Senate.

Many senators, including Republicans, saw the legislation as a critical step to strengthen America’s semiconductor manufacturing abilities as the nation has become perilously reliant on foreign countries — especially an increasingly vulnerable Taiwan — for advanced chips.

Mr. Schumer said it had been not too difficult to rally votes from Democrats, who tend to be less averse to government spending. But he also nodded to support from Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader: “To their credit, 17 Republicans, including McConnell, came in and said, ‘This is one expenditure we should make.’”

The legislation, which was known in Washington by an ever-changing carousel of lofty-sounding names, has defied easy definition. At more than 1,000 pages long, it is at once a research and development bill, a near-term and long-term jobs bill, a manufacturing bill and a semiconductors bill.

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