Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Passing The Bipartisan U.S. Innovation And Competition Act This Week

May 26, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need to pass the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act this week to preserve our competitive edge. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The Senate today will continue work on the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, legislation that will supercharge American innovation and preserve our competitive edge, not just for the next few years but for generations to come. It will be true that our children, and even our grandchildren, will benefit from this legislation.

Right now this legislation doesn't get the big focus of the press: a. because it's bipartisan, there aren't too many clashes; b. because it's positive; and c. because it is long-term. It won't have an immediate effect tomorrow, but it will have a profound effect in three, four, five years from now and generations later.

So, it is really important legislation. I think it is one of the most important things this chamber has done in a long time.

The hallmark of the bill so far has been its bipartisanship. It pulls together bipartisan legislation from no fewer than six Senate committees and includes the input of nearly every member of the Senate. The vote tallies you’re seeing on this bill are from another era: 24 to 4 in the Commerce Committee; 21 to 1 in Foreign Relations. The Senate as a whole voted to proceed to the bill by 86 to 11.

And the process here on the floor is no less bipartisan. I heard it from both sides of the aisle, let's try to do regular order.  Let's get on the floor and do amendments the way we used to.

Well, we're doing just that. We’ve already considered ten amendments—more than I can remember in a long time—eight of which were led by Republicans, so it's hardly that the Democratic majority is doing only what we want.

Three Republican amendments were adopted by voice vote last night. I mean, who would have ever thought that the Senate would adopt an amendment from Senator Rand Paul by voice vote! We did it.

So look, we are moving forward in a very bipartisan way. We’ll consider at least another three amendments to the bill today. And if both sides continue in good faith to schedule amendment votes and debate—and there are no eleventh-hour decisions to delay or obstruct—there is no reason we can’t finish the bill by the end of the week. That is my intention.

Taking a step back, the depth of bipartisanship on this bill reveals two things: one, members want to work together if given the chance. This bill came through the regular order. Senate Committees drove the process. And here on the floor, members have participated in robust debate and a robust amendment process.

But second, and maybe even more importantly, it reveals that Republicans and Democrats are united in our efforts to preserve and maintain American leadership on the world stage.

We all know that investing in sciences and innovation and technology holds the key to the future. The key. It's been one of the great hallmarks of America from 1950 on, maybe even earlier, from Thomas Edison on. Maybe earlier than that.

But today, we’ve let that lag. We’ve become far too complacent and the United States commits less than 1% of its GDP towards basic scientific research. That's the fault of government, but it's also the fault of the private sector. The world is so competitive and global competition is so severe, companies feel they can't invest as much in the kind of research that might pay off profits five or ten years down the road.

So while all of this is happening, the Chinese Communist Party spends nearly 2.5% on research, and has pledged to the world that they will increase scientific investments by 10% in the future. If that happens unchallenged, the days of America leading the world in science innovation—the days of America being the leading economic power of the world—will be over, and we'll regret it and look back ten or twenty years from now saying, why the heck didn't we do this? It was so simple and easy.

I heard my friend from Illinois, Sen. Durbin, say that in 1990, the United States produced 37% of the world’s semiconductors, a technology we invented. Today, we produce less than 12%. And it’s going down: many have predicted at this rate we will produce less than 6% in a few years from now.

If we don’t step up our game, right now, we will fall behind the rest of the world.

That’s what this legislation is ultimately about. Righting the ship. Investing in science and tech so we can out-innovate, out-produce, and out-compete the world in the industries of the future, some of which we know and some of which we don’t even know but we know that scientific investment will produce them. And if we’re at the forefront of this, we'll have America continue to be the leader in these new technologies yet unimagined.

Around the globe, authoritarian governments smell blood in the water. They believe that squabbling democracies like ours can’t come together and invest in national priorities the way a top-down, centralized, and authoritarian government can. They are rooting for us to fail so that they can grab the mantle of global economic leadership and own the innovations that will define the next century.

We cannot, we must not, let that happen and I do not believe we will let it happen. The bipartisan, strongly bipartisan work on this competition bill has revealed that, in this chamber, we still believe—Democrats and Republicans alike, united and moving forward—that another American century lies on the horizon.

Let’s move forward and finish our work and pass the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act as soon as possible, before the end of the month, this week.