The United States is involved in a “new space race,” but this time against China, and a bipartisan effort to boost innovation on everything from high-tech jobs to manufacturing will provide an opportunity to harness its greatest national assets through its “people, or talent, the dynamism of our economy,” Sen. Todd Young said Thursday.
“It’s going to require some investments from the American people in cutting edge, 21st century technologies, things like artificial intelligence and robotic and quantum computing economics, and various high-tech areas to ensure that the United States of America makes this century the second American century,” the Indiana Republican, one of the lawmakers introducing the “Endless Frontier Act,” said on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.”
The Chinese Communist Party and other regimes are pointing to the political and civil divisions going on in the United States, Young added, and it is time “for us to unify behind this effort and thwart the Chinese by out-innovating them and outgrowing them” rather than relying on defensive efforts such as tariffs.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted by 21-1 Wednesday to approve the bill, which aims at China on several fronts and includes closer scrutiny on foreign donations to U.S. colleges and universities.
Young and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., formally introduced the legislation that, if approved, will authorize spending $100 billion over five years to strengthen research and development in technology, computing, artificial intelligence, manufacturing, and other areas.
The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to put together the legislation next week. Schumer said he plans to combine it with other bills that deal with China and U.S. competitiveness and have it on the Senate floor as soon as May.
Young said Thursday that China is spending hundreds of billions of dollars in innovation on technology, and many of the areas being focused on, such as artificial intelligence and hyperscience, have military applications.
“Ultimately, our military power, our ability to exercise leverage when it comes to diplomacy is dependent on our economic strength, collectively through our alliance system,” said Young. “As we develop these technologies, we have the opportunity and to work with our allies to also set the standards for each of these technologies.”
If that doesn’t happen, the Chinese will set the standards, and will be able to “steal more of our stuff,” Young added.
“They can take away our jobs, which they’ve been doing for decades,” he said. “They can be undermining our wages.”
Part of the act’s appeal in the heartland is that it will allow tech hubs to be seeded nationwide, not only on the coast, so existing areas of expertise can also be tapped, said Young.
Meanwhile, Young said he thinks there is a bipartisan way forward on infrastructure.
“We’ve already passed some surface transportation bills through the United States Senate, just in recent years,” he said. “We can look to precedent and see how some of those things have been funded through government-subsidized loans, through various types of user fees.”
There is also an opportunity to look at some of the funding tor the pandemic, Young said.
“Much of that funding was absolutely needed, but in my home state of Indiana, just to take one example, there’s $2 billion at the state level,” he said. “There’s millions of dollars, even across many of our smaller municipalities, that frankly is not needed to address the pandemic, as we emerge from this horrible situation. So some of that money might be dedicated towards infrastructure.”
Young also said he thinks there is an opportunity to come together on a policing bill, and commended Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. for trying to find a “sweet spot” where both sides can agree.
“He’s not trying to come up with his ideal piece of legislation,” said Young. “He’s trying to come up with a piece of legislation that we believe will solve many if not most of our challenges and can actually get signed into law. “