By Bridget Visconti
The Endless Frontier Act is truly endless being over 1,445 pages in length.
The legislation started as a standalone bill that focused on strengthening the US technology sector and developing a Technology Directorate under the National Science Foundation. However, it’s now been combined with multiple other pieces of legislation, and after dozens of amendments were requested to be added to the legislation, Senator Schumer announced that it would be renamed the “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021.”
The new bill is wide in scope and targets multiple different areas, in everything from helping alleviate the semiconductor shortage to supporting pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong, investing in technology research, expanding 5G funding, and boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. It also creates a Technology Directorate under the National Science Foundation with a five-year budget of $29 billion, provides $90 million in funding to the State Department for a supply chain diversification program, gives funding for the creation of 18 new “Tech Hubs” around the US, among countless other things.
The bipartisan legislation initially garnered strong support, but conflict developed over the cost of the bill and that it does not do enough to stand up against China. While this legislation does not amount to the largest price tag we’ve seen from Congress in the past few months, the cost is not insignificant either. When it was initially introduced it was the estimated cost was $130 billion, however after the laundry list of amendments are added the cost is expected to be much higher.
While the goals of the bill are admirable there is concern that it will end up being another pork filled bill. The Republican Study Committee referred to it as the Endless Pork Act. Even Democrat Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) expressed concerns over how much pork was being added to the legislation.
Congress needs to focus on passing narrow bills that are clearly defined and include quantifiable goals. Passing massive legislation that is so long, that odds are very few Congressmen actually read it in its entirety is not an effective way to govern. With the national debt growing exponentially everyday congress needs to carefully consider what they are spending money on, and how much they are spending.
It is important for the US to take steps to develop the US’s technology industry, strengthen the semiconductor industry, protect US supply chains, and take steps to stand up to Communist China, however this is not the way to do it.
Photo Credit: Pawel Czerwinski