A massive $ 195 billion bill designed to bolster the country’s competitive advantage over China caught a snag in the Senate Friday after a small group of Republicans objected to its swift passage and a vote on the bipartisan bill had postponed to next month.
New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer, who had urged the move to be approved before the Senate left for its weeklong Memorial Day hiatus, abruptly changed course on Friday, amid Republican objections, saying it would graduate skip the measure in early June. The bill, which Mr Schumer co-drafted with Indiana Republican Senator Todd Young, is expected to be passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support.
Legislation had passed the Senate swiftly, fueled by growing fear among members of both parties that the United States would lose its economic and technological edge over China. But the last-minute delay was followed by nearly 24 hours of legislative disorder, beginning with an intense round of closed-door haggling in which Senators made significant changes to the sprawling bill, and ended with a midnight broadcast of the complaints from a small group of Conservative Senators who complained for not having had time to check the contents.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, along with a small group of Republicans, blocked the legislative process with an objection late Thursday night and prevented the Democrats from moving the bill forward. In a speech to the Senate early Friday morning, he complained that the senators had not been given enough time to review the legislation and that none of his preferred priorities – particularly one to fund a wall on the southern border – had been included.
Other Republicans who joined in his objection argued that the bill – which would also allocate $ 52 billion to a previously created program to subsidize the semiconductor industry – was just too expensive.
“We have been honestly fiscally irresponsible, and every opportunity we have now to bring this to the attention of the American people must be seized,” said Senator Cynthia Lummis, a Republican from Wyoming. “There are concepts in this bill that I find compelling, but it’s now over $ 200 billion.”
Their grievances reflected broader dissatisfaction within their party, with Republican senators expressing anger at how quickly the measure had raced through the Chamber. But the goal of the legislation – to compete with China – as well as a variety of church elements added to the bill to increase support, convinced a large group of Conservatives, many of whom were upset that their peers’ antics are keeping them had in Washington.
Republican support underscored broader change in the party, following the example of Donald J. Trump, with an increasing number of Conservatives supporting federal interventions in support of American manufacturing and leading an increasing threat from China.