Schumer under pressure from Democrats, GOP on China bill

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPoll: Majority of voters say more police are needed amid rise in crime America's middle class is getting hooked on government cash — and Democrats aren't done yet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate finalizes .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill MORE’s (D-N.Y.) bipartisan bill seeking to improve U.S. competitiveness with China and other countries is attracting barbs from Republicans and progressives alike.

The measure — which is supposed to be a major bipartisan accomplishment for President BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Biden vaccine rule sets stage for onslaught of lawsuits MORE — now faces a threat of being stalled until after the Memorial Day recess, which would in turn delay the rest of the packed Democratic agenda.

Republicans are threatening to derail the legislation because they’re not getting enough votes on their amendments, including one sponsored by Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (R-Idaho) to extend trade preferences and tariff relief.


Other Republicans are also demanding votes on their pet priorities. One lawmaker, Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThis week: Senate starts infrastructure sprint Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet MORE (R-Utah), has offered nearly 100 amendments to the bill.

Schumer, however, insists he’s going to stay on schedule.

“We are moving forward in the most bipartisan way that I can, and I’m confident we’re going to pass the bill this week,” he said.

At the same time, the Democratic leader is getting pressure from Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Five things to watch in two Ohio special election primaries MORE (I-Vt.) to add conditions to the $52 billion Schumer and other Democrats want to send to U.S. semiconductor manufacturers facing fierce foreign competition.

Sanders says giving $52 billion to Intel and other major semiconductor producers is “corporate welfare.” He wants the federal government to get “a piece of the action” from any future profits reaped by those companies if they receive taxpayer-funded assistance.

“There has to be some negotiation and the taxpayers have got to get something in return,” Sanders said Tuesday.


Sanders is also complaining about language in the bill authorizing $10 billion to Blue Origin, the space flight company founded by Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosBillionaires 'kvetching' about population collapse The billionaires' space race is just the beginning It's time for US to get serious about cleaning up space junk MORE that recently lost out on a multibillion-dollar NASA contract to SpaceX, which is led by Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskThe billionaires' space race is just the beginning Tesla's Musk voices support for Epic amid Apple lawsuit Tesla reports over 0M in energy business revenue in second quarter MORE.

The $10 billion authorization is a priority of Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions Graham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure MORE (D) who represents Kent, Wash., where Blue Origin is headquartered.

“I worry very much that what we are seeing now is two of the wealthiest people in this country, Mr. Elon Musk and Mr. Bezos, deciding that they are going to take control over our space industry,” Sanders grumbled on the Senate floor.

“I have got a real problem with the authorization of $10 billion going to somebody who, among other things, is the wealthiest person in this country,” he said.

Senate Minority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Graham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate MORE (R-S.D.) warned Tuesday that Schumer wouldn’t collect enough Republican votes to pass the bill by the Memorial Day recess, which begins at week’s end, unless he gives ground on Republican amendments.

“We’ve got a lot of unhappy campers right now that they haven’t been able to get a chance to get a vote on an amendment or get an amendment included in the package,” Thune said.

He said if Schumer tries to hold a vote to end debate and proceed to a final up-or-down vote, “it would fail right now.”

Thune said Republicans are angry that a deal between Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenUp next in the culture wars: Adding women to the draft Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Democrats release data showing increase in 'mega-IRA' accounts MORE (D-Ore.) and Crapo, the ranking Republican on the panel, that would have extended trade preferences and tariff relief was not added to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, the new name of the competitiveness bill that was initially called the Endless Frontier Act.

Schumer rejected the deal between Wyden and Crapo because it included the extension of the Generalized System of Preferences and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, trade provisions favored by the business community.

Instead, Schumer teamed with Wyden to offer an amendment to the Endless Frontier Act that would include the chiefly Democratic priorities under the Finance panel’s jurisdiction and not the trade provision that Crapo and business interests want.

Thune said Schumer is also resisting a vote on a Crapo amendment to add the trade provisions back to the legislation.

He added Wyden and Crapo had a deal and “Schumer yanked it.”


Schumer on Tuesday when asked about Crapo’s amendment insisted that he has been generous in giving Republicans votes on their amendments but declared he is drawing the line on proposals “that are totally unrelated to the bill.”

“We’ve been so bipartisan. I haven’t seen anything like it in all the years [Sen. Mitch] McConnell was leader where we have been so open to the process. Today we just offered them four more Republican amendments,” he said.

Schumer agreed to votes on a Crapo amendment to limit Biden’s authority to modify trade agreements, as well as an amendment sponsored by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulFive things to watch in two Ohio special election primaries Up next in the culture wars: Adding women to the draft The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (R-Ky.) to prohibit the National Institutes of Health from funding research on increasing the transmissibility of pathogens to humans and an amendment sponsored by Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Defense: Biden administration expands Afghan refugee program | Culture war comes for female draft registration | US launches third Somalia strike in recent weeks Grassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change MORE (R-Iowa) to prohibit federal funding from going to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Schumer is also giving ground to Sanders’s demand that taxpayers be able to reap a return on investment from any assistance given to domestic semiconductor manufacturers.

“We shouldn’t be giving out $53 billion to some very large profitable corporations and get nothing in return, so we’re talking about warrants where we would get a piece of the action,” Sanders told The Hill on Tuesday before bringing up the issue at a lunchtime meeting of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Schumer has touted the assistance to major semiconductor manufacturers such as Intel as a centerpiece of the legislation.


“We’re still at the cutting edge of research, but fewer than 12 percent of them are made in American and if this bill doesn’t pass, it will go down to 6,” Schumer said last week.

Schumer told reporters after Tuesday’s caucus meeting that he now agrees with Sanders.

“I think warrants are a good idea. That’s something he talked about at our meeting and we’re going to see what we can do in terms of warrants, either in this bill or as we move forward,” he said.

Congress added a provision to the $2.2 trillion CARES Act last year, which lawmakers passed at the start of the pandemic, that gave the federal government the ability to secure nonvoting equity shares, or warrants, in airline companies that accepted federal aid.

A stock warrant is a contract that allows an investor to purchase a share of a company at a specific price.

But that is raising alarms among Republicans, who oppose giving the federal government stakes in private companies.  

Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerGOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Here's evidence the Senate confirmation process is broken Commerce office used racial profiling operating as 'rogue' police force: Senate report MORE (Miss.), the top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, said “we’re kicking it around” and that giving the government a stake in chip companies is “a concern.”