Chuck Schumer has his work ahead of him. The New York Democrat is the majority leader of a Senate that is evenly divided between the two major factions. Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Says he is “100 percent” committed to obstructing President Biden’s democratic agenda. And some members of Schumer’s own Democratic faction – led by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin – are refusing to support efforts to unite in support of proposals like the democracy-renewing For the People Act.
However, Schumer takes the view that it is still possible for the Senate to get something through at least on important issues.
Possible. But not easy.
The majority leader was particularly frustrated in late May when right-wing Republicans – led by Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin – tried to suppress the debate over the US Innovation and Competition Act, a pioneering law that Schumer describes as “the most significant investment in science, technology and American manufacturing in a generation.” In a letter to colleagues, Schumer explained how the Senate saw “the limits of bipartisanism and the resurgence of republican obstructionism” in the initial debate about an originally bipartisan initiative.
“Despite three months of regular order in USICA, the entry of no fewer than six committees, dozens of Republican amendments approved to the bill, and 21 roll-call and voting on amendments,” he said, “the Senate Republicans were trying to Delaying the inevitable USICA adoption by two weeks, despite American manufacturers facing devastating semiconductor shortages asking for help. ”
Schumer pushed the issue, arguing: “We have placed ourselves in a very precarious position, possibly falling behind the rest of the world in the technologies and industries that will define the next century.”
May 27thJust before recess on Memorial Day, the majority leader got the Senate to vote 68-30 to end the debate on the $ 250 billion package. This will initiate an almost certain Senate vote to approve USICA, which will then be forwarded to the House of Representatives, where it was promoted by MP Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). While many media outlets have phrased the proposal in response to China’s growing economic power – and that is certainly part of the explanation for its bipartisan appeal – Khanna has always put it in a broader context. “It’s an economic document. It is a job reference. It’s a technology law, “the Californian said of what was originally referred to as” The ” Endless Frontier Act. “But our argument is that foreign policy and economic policy are intertwined. That the future of the 21st century does not depend so much on who has more aircraft carriers, but rather on who becomes a leader in the future and technology sectors. Building a resilient semiconductor supply chain and building a leadership position in clean technology and AI is as important as funding defense, and that argument has been well received. ”
This is a bold claim, and an important one because it suggests that, as frustrating as the process may be, it is still possible to rule. At least on some subjects.