$250B legislative tech package is good for state, US

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate this week approved a $250 billion package to boost the nation’s ability to compete with Chinese technology and address the global semiconductor shortage.

We applaud Indiana’s own Sen. Todd Young, a Republican, for joining with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, in sponsoring the bill and bringing the often-warring political parties together on such important economic issues.

We also praise Young for having the foresight to give Indiana a simultaneous opportunity to up its own technology game in the process.

A key provision of the bill includes $10 billion to fund regional technology hubs over five years to help level the playing field for flyover states such as Indiana, so tech investment isn’t just centered in coastal cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Boston.

Young’s involvement in the legislation gave Indiana leaders an early heads-up on the program’s prospects. And, as IBJ’s Mickey Shuey reported last week, Indiana officials already have started brainstorming ways to make their bid for a federally funded technology hub stand out.

As Young told IBJ: “One of the advantages of being the author of this legislation—I say this unapologetically and without any guardedness—is, we have a running start.”

Other elements of the bill—originally called the Endless Frontier Act but now the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act—are equally important to make the American tech sector more competitive with China, Japan and South Korea.

A key provision sets aside $50 billion to ramp up semiconductor production. This offers another chance for Indiana to increase its standing in the tech world by nabbing one of seven to 10 semiconductor plants that could be launched through the initiative.

Another $190 billion would fund many provisions to bolster U.S. technology and research and put checks on China’s growing tech influence.

One initiative would create a branch of the National Science Foundation focused on artificial intelligence and quantum science. Other efforts emphasize robotics and advanced computing and manufacturing.

Among the China-related provisions are required sanctions against Chinese organizations that steal intellectual property from American companies or are involved in cyberattacks against the United States, according to Reuters.

Certainly, not everyone is happy with the bill. While the Senate’s 68-32 vote for the measure showed some welcome bipartisanship, a core group of Republicans was concerned about its cost.

In this instance, we think the investment is worth it because the stakes are too high and the consequences too steep if the United States loses ground in the battle for tech competitiveness.

We hope the House of Representatives will agree and send the bill to President Biden so he can sign it into law.•

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