McConnell sends warning shot on Schumer’s China bill

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is warning that Republicans want additional changes to legislation aimed at combating China’s competitiveness before a final vote.

The warning shot comes as Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants to wrap up the bill before the Senate leaves for a one-week break in a matter of days. To get the bill to the finish line, Schumer will need the support of at least 10 GOP senators.

The Senate easily voted to take up the China legislation last week in an 86-11 vote. But Republicans are pushing for additional changes. Lawmakers held roll call votes on four GOP amendments to the bill last week, but three were rejected.

“So far we’ve had a few votes on important amendments. There are a lot more that need consideration. And we should not close debate on this bill until those amendments are addressed,” McConnell said from the Senate floor Monday.

“I hope and expect we’ll have a number of further votes on important amendments before there would be any amendment to shut off debate on this ranging measure,” he added.

McConnell’s public comments come as Republicans have been putting in requests for changes to the bill, which could threaten to drag out debate over the legislation, even after the Senate Commerce Committee fielded dozens of amendments during its work on the Endless Frontier Act, the bill at the core of Schumer’s package that he spearheaded with Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.).

Schumer has said that he wants to wrap up the bill by the end of this week. If he’s unable to, that means it would drag into early June, since the Senate returns on June 7.

And he’s facing growing headaches under a $52 billion provision on semiconductor manufacturing.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an adviser to McConnell, has warned that as currently drafted it could cost the legislation votes. He’s offering an amendment to try to strike wage-related language out of the bill.

On the other side of the aisle, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) slammed the same provision Monday.

“As part of the Endless Frontiers bill we should not be handing out $53 billion in corporate welfare to some of the largest and most profitable corporations in the country with no strings attached,” Sanders tweeted

A top Sanders staffer also signaled that Sanders would likely be proposing an amendment, saying: “We should not be giving them billions in corporate welfare with no strings attached. Amendment time.” 

Tags Bernie Sanders Charles Schumer China John Cornyn Mitch McConnell Todd Young
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