Fitzpatrick leads caucus in calling for vote on innovation, competition package

The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which is co-chaired by U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), on Tuesday called on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to bring up legislation for a vote that addresses U.S. technology and communications, foreign relations and national security, domestic manufacturing, education, and trade, among other matters.

The bipartisan United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) of 2021, H.R. 4521 — introduced in July 2021 by U.S. Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Frank Lucas (R-OK) — should be voted on by the full chamber before the end of the month, according to a statement released on July 19 by the caucus members, who include co-chair U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).

“From stretched supply chains for critical goods to manufacturing shortages, our nation is facing unprecedented challenges in our strategic competition with China that are holding domestic producers back,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick and the caucus members. “We must take the initiative by investing in American competitiveness and addressing major supply chain issues.”

According to their statement, H.R. 4521 would boost domestic manufacturing, accelerate U.S. production of semiconductor chips, reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign countries like China, and help lower costs for families and small businesses, while also creating new U.S. jobs.

“Semiconductor manufacturing is central to our ability to compete with Communist China” and forms the core of USICA provisions under the provisions in the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act, their statement says. “American defense and civilian applications of artificial intelligence, next-generation wireless technology and biotechnology require a competitive and self-sufficient domestic semiconductor industry.”

Currently, H.R. 4521 is being reconciled by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The Senate in March approved the measure, 68-28. The House narrowly passed it with a 222-210 vote in February. 

“We had hoped both chambers could find common solutions on the differences between their respective bills,” according to the caucus’ statement. “Unfortunately, the House and Senate have been unable to bridge their differences about the most contentious aspects of the legislation.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick and his colleagues pointed out that the House now can either pass H.R. 4521 or take an approach often referred to as CHIPS plus, “combining full funding for CHIPS plus with other agreed-upon provisions from the stalled conference,” they said, referencing the Senate-approved version.

The additional provisions that would be incorporated into a CHIPS plus bill, according to the caucus, would include a Directorate for Technology and Innovation in the National Science Foundation, regional technology hubs and stronger safeguards to protect U.S. research and intellectual property from theft by foreign adversaries.

“These are precisely the investments we need to make sure we are ready for strategic competition,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick and his colleagues. “Swiftly passing this legislation through the House will give America’s manufacturers confidence to invest in good paying jobs while taking on China and helping fix our supply chains.”