Chuck Schumer Loses Control Over Senate

( If Thursday’s chaos and division over the vote on the American Innovation and Competition Act and the Endless Frontier Act is any indication, Chuck Schumer’s control over the Senate may not be as strong as he would like.

The combined bill, designed to boost technology and research in the US to counter China, has broad bipartisan support, and it was believed the bill would sail through the Senate easily.

However, voting was delayed after Senator Ron Johnson forced Senators to take up long procedural votes that went late into the night. Johnson used his debate time to introduce amendments to the bill in order to run out the clock.

After Johnson delayed voting, several other Senators raised objections to proceeding on the final vote. When Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) tried to attach the amendment package to the final bill, both Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rick Scott (R-FL) argued for more time to review amendments and requested a delay on voting. These requests were denied by Cantwell.

There is strong Republican opposition to the bill. Republican Senators Rubio (FL), Cotton (AK) and Hawley (MO) oppose the bill in its current form. Senator Rubio has cited the lack of safeguards in the Endless Frontier Act to prevent research institutions already compromised by China from receiving the funding the act provides.

Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), also opposes American Innovation and Competition Act because it contains a special provision for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that Sanders believes is a bailout.

Currently neither party holds a majority in the US Senate – with each controlling 50 votes. The only reason Schumer is Majority Leader is because of Democrat Vice President Harris, who can cast a tie-breaking vote on behalf of the Democrats.

Democrats need the votes of all fifty of their Senators locked in to advance anything.

And if Senate Democrats have this much trouble bringing a bipartisan bill like the American Innovation and Competition Act to a vote, that does not bode well for President Biden’s ambitious and far more controversial “Infrastructure” bill of which the AICA is an integral part.

In response to the cascade of delays over voting, Leader Schumer rescheduled the vote for after the Memorial Day recess and vowed that the Senate “has every intention” to stick it out until the job was done.