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"atlantic congress" Discussed on KCRW
"With left right and center. I'm Josh Barrow on the right is Megan McArdle, columnist of The Washington Post on the left is Elizabeth Bronek, staff writer at the Atlantic Congress remains busy. There are ongoing negotiations to see whether a portion of President Biden's infrastructure proposal could be completed on a bipartisan basis. West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito is the lead Republican negotiator on that Democrats are working out how they want to seek to advance legislation about voting, though that's highly likely to run into a Republican filibuster in the Senate, But there are two other things moving in the shorter term. But I think tell us something interesting about how Congress works today. One bill is a reflection of the new, highly polarized Congress, and the other is a throwback. Showing the Congress is sometimes secretly like it always Woz. The partisan fight, which we'll get to in a second is over whether there should be a bipartisan commission to investigate the January six attack on the Capitol. But what I want to talk about first is something that really looks like old style legislation. This is the U. S Innovation and Competition Act. Now part of this was once referred to as the Endless Frontier Act, which is a bipartisan proposal from Chuck Schumer on the Democratic side, and Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana. On. It was intended to sharply increase U. S investment in Applied Science Research. That's in things like artificial intelligence, semiconductors, quantum computing biotechnology. All this very cool stuff on you can call a big $100 billion investment in this over five years. You can call it a way to boost productivity growth. Even call it a way to fight climate change. You can call it a way to compete with China and in fact Members of both parties have been saying all of those things, and that's part of why the bill is likely on the way to pass. It's been moving through regular order. That's the way Congress is supposed to work or committees right legislation. They change it. There are negotiations and people insert their own pet projects into the bills. And we've been seeing the good and bad of that That's helping to build the coalition that's going to get this thing to pass. But the bills also becoming kind of a Christmas tree, which is to say people hang whatever they want on it. Why Senator Brian Shot's gotta provisioning to build to fight the trade in shark fins. Some of the money also keeps getting shifted around like New Mexico Senator Ben Ray Luhan got a lot of the money that was supposed to go to this new initiative is gonna move the Department of Energy, which has major labs in his state of New Mexico. Bills also been really reduced in size. $100 billion now includes the existing budget of the National Science Foundation, So it's good. It's an increase in spending by tens of billions of dollars, but not as much as was once hoped. Still, it's not nothing even though a lot of a lot of other science stuff and a lot of other unrelated stuff has gotten to this bill. It shows that Congress can move toward new, interesting initiatives, with the temperature a little bit lower in terms of partisanship of the negotiations when they set their mind to it. S Elizabeth. When you look at this Is this a good process and is it leading to a good outcome? Well, I think that the second question sort of answers. The first It's not leading to good outcomes and therefore I I have to rule that it's not a great process. I mean, something. We're not about Congress for a long time. Like you said, It's no surprise that it's ultra dysfunctional. But I think this bill especially because there's nothing really to object to their on. There's a lot to support, especially coming from the situation. We've just come from with the pandemic. On get it's turned into you know such a such a log rolling disaster, I think is it is a very good object lesson in the problem here. But I don't know that it's a log rolling disaster. I mean, even if a lot of the stuff that's getting put in here wasn't supposed to be the initial priority. You know, I don't have a problem with spending more money at the Department of Energy's labs in New Mexico, even if the bill is becoming less focused, and some of the money is spent better than others. It seems to me like you know, if that's what you have to do in order to get something done, and and things are, there's nothing in here that looks to me like it's a completely terrible way for the government to spend money. So I'm I'm not sure it's a disaster, even if it's in perfect. But hasn't ah lot of the pinning stuff. I mean, pinning things on to this bill. I mean, hasn't it also resulted in the wiggling down of the money that was initially set aside for innovation and right? And yes, that's the arresting and technology. Yes, that's a serious problem. Megan, What do you make of this? Look on the one hand I'm kind of heartened to see logrolling coming back. It's kind of just really you cheering to see Congress behaving basically normally. Yes. On the one hand, they have messed up this bill. It is now smaller than it should be, I would say, because I think that you know the government should just like spend money with abandon on basic scientific research research. Ondo Horse Trading has been no prettier to watch than any process of congressional sausage making ever is. But on the other hand, like it's just so normal, right, we're kind of arguing about fairly small details on a bill that we can all basically agree like, should happen. Um and that is a really welcome change from the other side..