By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Senate committee is set to vote on Wednesday on a compromise measure for basic and advanced technology research and science over five years and the creation of a White House chief manufacturing officer in the face of rising competitive pressure from China.
The roughly $110 billion measure, known as the “Endless Frontier” act, is not expected to include legislation to allow automakers to deploy tens of thousands of self-driving vehicles on U.S. roads despite a push by some lawmakers, congressional aides said.
Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell said she and the top Republican on the panel, Roger Wicker, had agreed to accept nearly 100 amendments to the revised proposal.
The bipartisan bill would authorize most of the money, $100 billion, over five years to invest in basic and advanced research, commercialization, and education and training programs in key technology areas, including artificial intelligence, semiconductors, quantum computing, advanced communications, biotechnology and advanced energy.
The measure, sponsored by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Republican Senator Todd Young and others, would also authorize another $10 billion to designate at least 10 regional technology hubs and create a supply chain crisis-response program to address issues like the shortfall in semiconductor chips harming auto production.
Senators Gary Peters, a Democrat, and John Thune, a Republican, had sought to win approval for a proposal for regulators to initially exempt 15,000 self-driving vehicles per manufacturer from safety standards written with human drivers in mind but could not reach agreement. The figure would rise to 80,000 within three years.
Peters also plans to introduce an amendment that could authorize up to $2 billion for the Commerce Department to help boost auto chip manufacturing.
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