Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Progress Of The Bipartisan U.S. Innovation And Competition Act

May 27, 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 to keep America on top and out-compete the world in the industries of the future. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The Senate opens this morning after a very late night of amendment votes on the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. Five in total, four of which of these amendments were sponsored by Republicans.

So far on this bill, the Senate has held votes on no fewer than 18 amendments, four from Democrats and fourteen from Republicans, and there are more to come.

As I mentioned yesterday, in a landmark moment for bipartisanship in the Senate, we even adopted an amendment from Senator Rand Paul by voice vote. Yes, that’s right:  Rand Paul. Voice vote. Four words, but two concepts together. Rand Paul, voice vote.

Now, the media will tell you that if you’re talking process, you’re losing. But the process was really important here.

For years, Senators have been clamoring for a more open process and more amendment votes. I can’t tell you how many speeches I’ve heard on the floor about the virtues of regular order. Well, this competition bill ought to be the answer to my colleagues’ prayers. The bill has moved through the regular order, flying through various Senate Committees with staggering bipartisan votes. The entire Senate opted to take up the bill by a vote of 86-11. And here on the floor, we’ve held the kind of vigorous, bipartisan, open amendment process that Senators have been calling for.

Some of these votes were tough for our side. In the old days, we would have said no. We said yes, we’ll vote for them. Let's keep moving forward and we are.

Listen to this. It is only May, roughly five months since Democrats took the majority in this chamber, and already more amendments have received roll call votes than during any—any—of the past four years.

Let me repeat that, so people hear it from one end of the Capitol to the other, particularly on this side of the aisle: in five months, more amendments have received roll call votes in this Democratic-led Senate than during any of the years in which Donald Trump was president and Senator McConnell was the Majority Leader.

We have considered the competition bill in an exceedingly bipartisan way. There will be a few final steps to take; a few final amendments to consider. But I hope my Republican colleagues have seen our commitment to developing, drafting, and perfecting this legislation in total concert with the other side of the aisle.

With cooperation from our Republican colleagues, we can finish the bill today. And I hope we do. That’s our intention. Because despite the lack of attention it has garnered from the press, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act will be one of the most significant pieces of bipartisan legislation we pass in a very long time.

It could be a moment in history that future generations look back on as a turning point for American leadership in the 21st Century.

Everyone knows the federal government’s commitment to science and technology has been slipping for decades. We’ve been complacent at the top of the global heap, and our position as the world’s economic leader is teetering. We now spend less than 1%—less than 1% of our GDP—on basic scientific research. The Chinese Communist Party, as a percentage, spends more than twice that. We have put ourselves in a very precarious position of potentially falling behind the rest of the world in the technologies and industries that will define the next Century.

If that happens, the days of America leading the world in scientific innovation, the days of America being the leading economic and military power in the world, may be over. This is a moment when the United States Senate can arrest the decline and lay the foundation, instead, for another American century. Again, that's why this is a moment in history that future generations could well look back on as a turning point for American leadership in the 21st century.

By investing in science and technology, shoring up critical industries like semiconductors, boosting our universities, laboratories, and businesses, we can keep America on top and out-compete the world in the industries of the future.

That is just what this legislation would do.

Our two parties have worked very hard on it. I think we’ve made a number of notable improvements to the bill. It’s time to move forward, together, and pass this bill.