Several Virginia priorities included in Democratic-led U.S. COMPETES Act

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The House of Representatives on Friday voted 222 to 210, largely along party lines, to pass the America COMPETES Act, a legislative package pushed by Democrats to make American businesses more competitive.

The bill included an amendment by Second District Democrat Elaine Luria to ban the use of U.S. bailout funds to purchase telecommunications equipment made by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.

“By passing the COMPETES Act, we are standing up to the People’s Republic of China and ensuring that America remains the world’s leading manufacturing and economic powerhouse,” Luria said. “The COMPETES Act will benefit working families, small businesses, and the American economy by strengthening American technological innovation and improving supply chains and domestic manufacturing capacity. Future generations will appreciate and benefit from our economic independence.

The legislation includes $52 billion to support U.S. production of semiconductors — a key part of consumer electronics, cars, defense systems and other key products — and also to combat disruptions in the supply chain that raise costs for families, bring chip production back to America, and ensure that the United States leads the way in semiconductor manufacturing.

It also includes $45 billion to support the manufacturing and acquisition of critical goods or industrial equipment critical to national security and economic vitality – including public health and biological preparedness, information technology and communications, the industrial base of the energy and transport sector, and agricultural products. and food supply chains.

“Manufacturing has long been a major asset to the American economy, but the decades-long decline in manufacturing jobs in the United States has cut off the pathways to economic security for many families,” said the Eighth District Democrat. Don Beyer.

The legislation includes the National Secure Data Service Act, introduced by Beyer, which links data collected through surveys, federal program administration and non-government data sources to advance evidence-based policy. evidence, and an amendment to increase investment in fusion energy, which Beyer, founder of the bipartisan Fusion Energy Caucus, co-led.

“Today’s passage of the America COMPETES Act is a historic investment in infrastructure, clean technology and innovation that will create and sustain high-quality jobs in communities across the country for generations of workers, will advance US competitiveness and drive long-term economic growth. said Beyer. “By helping to create a pipeline from advanced research to domestic manufacturing here at home, the America COMPETES Act will ensure that workers and families see more of the benefits of economic gains from innovation.”

A companion bill was passed in the Senate last summer with Senator Tim Kaine’s Jobs Act. Introduced with Ohio Republican Rob Portman, the JOBS Act will make high-quality, short-term education and training programs eligible for federal Pell grants so workers can afford the job training and credentials needed to in-demand careers.

Under current law, Pell Grants – need-based grants for low-income, working students – can only be applied to programs over 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks, although many quality vocational training programs are shorter term. The JOBS Act will amend the Higher Education Act to extend Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality vocational training programs lasting at least eight weeks and leading to recognized degrees and certificates by industry.

Under the Jobs Act, qualifying programs will provide training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce. In Virginia, the Virginia Community College System has identified approximately 50 programs that would benefit from the JOBS Act, including health care, manufacturing, energy, information technology, transportation, architecture and construction, marine and business management and administration.

“This is a step in the right direction to ensure that people who want to get post-secondary education to get good jobs aren’t denied access to federal financial aid,” Kaine said. “With the major changes COVID has brought to the labor market, expanding the types of education we consider eligible for the Pell Grant will allow workers to quickly acquire employable skills and find well-paying jobs. Investing in our workforce in this way will improve people’s economic mobility and advance our national economy as a whole. There are still a few technical changes I would like to see made to the JOBS Act amendment to help bring it into line with the Senate version we are working on, but this is an extremely positive step.

The America COMPETES Act also includes legislation from Seventh District Democrat Abigail Spanberger to help reduce the flow of illicit fentanyl into the United States. Spanberger’s legislation would require the U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Attorney General, and U.S. Treasury Secretary to recognize this pressing challenge and issue a report to Congress outlining U.S. efforts to secure a commitment from Chinese and Latin American governments to combat the production and flow of illicit fentanyl.

With this additional information, the United States could take more action to combat the illicit production and trafficking of fentanyl from China and Latin America.

“Right now, the United States must stand up to the Chinese government and invest in our workforce, our economy, and our overall competitiveness,” Spanberger said. “This solution must include a renewed effort to support enhanced semiconductor production and prescription drug manufacturing here at home. Additionally, this strategy must take the long-overdue decision to hold China accountable for turning a blind eye to the illicit production, distribution, and sale of fentanyl — illicit activities that are killing Americans.

The America COMPETES Act also includes the Spanberger Continuous Manufacturing Research Act, which would allow the National Science Foundation to award grants for advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing research, including continuous manufacturing research.

Currently, NSF can use existing grants to support manufacturing research and education in six key areas: nanofabrication, robotics, advanced sensing and control techniques, manufacturing enterprise systems , materials processing and informatics for manufacturing.

Legislation led by Spanberger would establish advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing as the seventh area of ​​manufacturing research. She originally introduced the bill as stand-alone legislation in June 2021.

“The government’s continued investment in next-generation technologies such as continuous manufacturing enables Phlow and our industry colleagues to bring critical medicine manufacturing back to the United States while ensuring the highest quality processes. “said Eric Edwards, MD, PhD, co-founder and CEO. , Phlow Corp. “In collaboration with the U.S. government, Phlow is implementing a U.S.-based essential medicines supply chain solution through the development of advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing techniques, including continuous manufacturing, to reimagine development and production of key raw materials, active pharmaceutical ingredients, and finished pharmaceutical products essential to American health care.

Chris Graham’s Story

augusta free press
augusta free press

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