Schumer strikes deal with House, dropping push to link China, defense bills

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure Voting rights and Senate wrongs MORE (D-N.Y.) is dropping his push to add a competitiveness proposal into a sweeping defense policy bill after striking a deal with the House to negotiate on the China-focused competition legislation. 

The announcement removes a significant roadblock for the defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and is a breakthrough on the Senate-passed China legislation that has been stuck for months in the House.
Schumer's effort to add the Senate-passed anti-China competitiveness legislation — including potentially making changes to the Senate bill over concerns about procedural snags in the House — into the defense bill had sparked warnings from Senate Republicans that they would block the defense bill from coming up for debate. 
But Schumer and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden clarifies his remarks on Russia Democrats hope to salvage Biden's agenda on Manchin's terms  MORE (D-Calif.) announced on Wednesday night that they had reached an agreement to enter formal negotiations between the House and the Senate on the competitiveness legislation.
"Today, we are pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement for the House and Senate to go to conference on the United States Innovation and Competition Act [USICA]," they said.
"After Senate Republicans made it clear they would block the inclusion of USICA on the NDAA, we have decided that the best way to get an agreement will be through the conference process," Schumer and Pelosi added. 
The Senate passed the USICA, aimed at bolstering U.S. competitiveness with countries including China, earlier this year in a 68-32 vote. 
But since then it's been delayed in the House, where Democrats had their own ideas and competing bills. 

Schumer and Pelosi referenced those disagreements in their statement, acknowledging that "there are still a number of important unresolved issues."

"Therefore, the House and Senate will immediately begin a bipartisan process of reconciling the two chambers’ legislative proposals so that we can deliver a final piece of legislation to the President’s desk as soon as possible," they added.
Schumer had announced on Tuesday that he would add the China competitiveness bill into the NDAA. That sparked pushback from Senate Republicans and a warning from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithHillicon Valley — Shutterfly gets hacked Biden signs 8 billion defense bill Overnight Defense & National Security — Democrats spar over military justice reform MORE (D-Wash.) that it could make reaching an agreement on the House and Senate versions of the defense bill more difficult. 
But with Schumer dropping his push to link the China legislation to the defense bill, the Senate could take its first vote to start bringing the NDAA to the floor as soon as Wednesday night. 
The Senate had been expected to vote on Wednesday morning, and the bill would have needed 60 votes to overcome an initial hurdle. But that vote was delayed amid the GOP pushback on including the China legislation in the defense bill.