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Bipartisan support on out-competing China

Kicker: Senate weighs investing $120 Billion in science to contain China’s rise

Washington: The US Senate voted on Monday to advance a broad bipartisan effort to counter China’s economic and geopolitical ambitions, though negotiators are still hammering out critical details of the legislation.

Senators voted 86-11 to move forward on the Endless Frontier Act, the base for the larger China bill. Ultimately, it’s expected to include additional measures boosting technology research and development, revitalizing manufacturing sectors, and outlining a diplomatic and national security strategy for the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has long pushed for a more hawkish approach to China, is leading the effort alongside Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), a rising voice in his party on foreign affairs.The final product could pass the Senate before June and would represent the culmination of a two-month effort by Senate committees, to draw up bipartisan legislation aimed at out-competing China. The nascent agreement is also a bright spot for a chamber that has grown increasingly partisan in recent years.

Schumer called the bill a “once-in-a-generation investment in American science and American technology.”

“We can either have a world where the Chinese Communist Party determines the rules of the road for 5G, artificial intelligence and quantum computing — or we can make sure the United States gets there first,” Schumer said on the floor.

President Joe Biden supports the bill, the White House announced Monday, calling it “an important step in ensuring the U.S. remains globally competitive in the 21st century.”

The final legislation is likely to include bipartisan bills to boost semiconductor manufacturing, push back against China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property, and confront Beijing’s threats to U.S. national security, among others. Aides said they expect the Senate to wrap up its work on the effort by Memorial Day.

The centerpiece of the Endless Frontier Act is $100 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation to create a new technology directorate. But Sen. Young raised concerns after the Senate Commerce Committee adopted an amendment to the bill last week that would redirect billions of dollars instead to the Department of Energy. Young hinted that it could cause Republicans to yank their support from the final product, but said he was hopeful that negotiators could reach a compromise.

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International Latest News

50+ Voters may tip the scale in Senate Runoffs in Georgia

Atlanta: AARP Georgia has released a new survey of likely Georgia voters showing both U.S. Senate races statistically tied, with Democrat Jon Ossoff (48%) narrowly leading Republican incumbent David Perdue (46%) and Democrat Raphael Warnock (47%) edging Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler (46%). But among voters age 50-plus, the poll shows both the Republican candidates lead their Democratic challenger by identical margins, 53% for Perdue and Loeffler versus 42% for Ossoff and Warnock. Just 5% are undecided.

The two runoff elections are in January. After the Nov 3 election, the GOP has 50 seats in the US Senate, so they need to win one of the two runoffs to retain control of the Upper House. Democrats need to win both to gain control with Kamala Harris as Vice President being the tie vote.

The two Democrats are challenging the incumbent Senators. (Photo courtesy 11alive.com)

The AARP poll found majorities of Republicans and Democrats aged 50+ are more likely to vote for a candidate advocating for policies that protect older Americans, like using Medicare’s buying power to help lower drug prices. The survey was conducted on behalf of AARP by the bipartisan team of Fabrizio Ward and Hart Research Associates between Nov. 30 and Dec. 4, 2020.

“These results show that both races are a dead heat and time is running out for candidates to address the concerns of 50-plus voters,” said AARP Georgia State Director Debra Tyler-Horton. “To win, candidates must discuss the issues that matter to 50-plus Georgians now – like preventing cuts to Social Security and Medicare, lowering drug prices and protecting seniors in nursing homes.”

Georgia’s 50-plus voters from both parties said they are much more or somewhat more likely to support a Senate candidate who advocates to:

  • Allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies (Republicans 93%, Democrats 94%)
  • Protect Social Security (R 90%, D 93%)
  • Protect Medicare (R 83%, D 96%)
  • Increase protections for nursing home residents during COVID-19 (R 79%, Ds 95%)
  • Provide tax credits for family caregivers to help offset costs (R 69%, D 90%), and
  • Strengthen age discrimination law (R 53%, D 81%).

The survey also found:

  • 50-plus Georgians’ willingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has increased 14 points—from 41% to 55%—since September.
  • The majority of 50-plus voters prefer a candidate who focuses on providing financial relief to people and businesses hurt by the economic slowdown over a candidate focused on deficit reduction.

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. It has a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members.

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Senate passes bill to drop country cap for green cards

Washington: The US Senate has unanimously passed a bill (referred to as S.386) or the ‘Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act’, raising the hopes of thousands of Indians stuck for decades in a green card backlog.

The bill eliminates the 7% country cap for employment-based immigrant visas (green cards), which will help ease the massive backlog faced by Indians. In addition, it also increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from the current 7% of the total number of such visas available in a particular year to 15%, reports Times of India.

Senator Kevin Cramer, who presided over the Senate as this bi-partisan bill was passed, said in a series of tweets that because of the arbitrary per-country caps, the legal status of thousands of hard-working immigrants who bridge the gap between America’s workforce shortage and its immediate need for physicians, software developers, and other highly-skilled workers is constantly in jeopardy.

“The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act fixes that by – without increasing the number of employment-based visas – creating a more merit-based system that levels the playing field for high-skilled immigrants,” he tweeted. The employment‐based system has a cap of 140,000 green cards per year, which remains unchanged.

A study done by CATO Institute had pointed out that the employment based green card backlog from India (EB-2 and EB-3 skilled category) has reached 7.41 lakh in April 2020, with an expected wait time of 84 years.

However, the end of the road has not yet been reached. An earlier bill passed by the House of Representatives was significantly different. The two bills will need to be reconciled and a final bill passed. Then comes the issue of a signature from President Trump – there is a likelihood that this will be the stumbling block.

S.386, as passed by the Senate, sets down transition rules by reserving a percentage of EB-2 and EB-3 immigrant visas for those who are not from India and China (the two countries with the largest backlog in these categories) for the first nine years post enactment of the bill. EB-2 and EB-3 categories are employment based green cards allotted to skilled workers and their dependents. This transition has been built in to avoid Indians and Chinese dominating the allocation of green cards, once the country caps are lifted. The reservations will be higher in the initial years.

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Latest News USA

American Hindu Coalition endorses Dr. Rik Mehta for US Senate

By The SATimes News Service

Washington, DC: The American Hindu Coalition has endorsed Dr. Rik Mehta for the US Senate from New Jersey State in the November 3ʳᵈ, 2020 elections.

“Dr. Rik Mehta is a true American, supports Hindu values and protecting religious freedoms for all, and a family man, who will take a firm stand to fix New Jersey and protect our “American Way of Life” for our children,” the coalition said in a press release. 

In making history, Dr. Mehta became the first American of Indian origin to win a major party’s nomination for a statewide race in New Jersey. 

Mehta believes in saving our small businesses; the backbone of our economy; that COVID-19 can and will be defeated; that the China Communist Party’s reign on American prosperity and military superiority will be stopped; that America is and always will be exceptional; that all women and men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The coalition said that they support Mehta’s views that in our constitutional system — limited government, separation of powers, federalism, and the rights of the people — must be preserved and not compromised for future generations.

“We are proud of Rik Mehta and the hope that he will bring to Washington,” it said in the press release. 

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International

New polls show trouble for Trump and GOP in some red states

Washington:Just-released polls contain bad news for President Trump and his Senate allies, with Joe Biden expanding the electoral map to states that have long been safe bastions for the Republican Party, reports Yahoo News.

Biden is solidifying his lead over Trump in Arizona, a state not won by a Democrat in a presidential race since Bill Clinton took it in 1996, according to a new survey by OH Predictive Insights. Biden leads Trump by 7 percentage points in Arizona. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

The same survey also had bad news for Senate Republican incumbent Martha McSally, who appears to be losing ground in her reelection bid against Democrat Mark Kelly. A former astronaut and the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, Kelly now leads McSally by 13 points. A month earlier, the same poll showed Kelly ahead by 9 points.

In Georgia, Biden leads Trump by a single percentage point, 48 percent to 47 percent, according to a poll conducted by Civiqs/DailyKos that was released Tuesday and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

An internal poll conducted last week by a group backing Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp found Biden ahead of Trump by a margin of 47 percent to 46 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Both polls showed Democrat Jon Ossoff running strong against incumbent GOP Sen. David Perdue. While Ossoff has yet to secure his party’s nomination, he leads Purdue by 2 percentage points in the Civics/Daily Kos poll and trails by 2 points in the internal Republican poll.

If Biden does defeat Trump in November, Democrats will need to flip just three Senate seats to retake control of the chamber where Republicans currently hold a 53-47 seat advantage. With Biden’s victory in the Democratic primary coupled with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the chances of what had been considered a long shot have greatly increased.

“It’s an extraordinary turn of events,” Neil Newhouse, a GOP pollster, told Vox. “This is is not the political environment we expected at the beginning of the year.”

Not all the polls in recent weeks show Biden and Democrats cruising to victory. While Biden also leads Trump in Florida by 4.5 percent among likely voters in Florida, according to a poll released Tuesday by Point Blank Political, an Emerson College poll released last week showed the president leading Biden in Texas by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent in a head-to-head matchup.

Still, referencing recent surveys in Arizona, Georgia and Texas that show Biden competitive or leading in those states, Biden’s campaign manager Jennifer O’Malley Dillon said Friday that the former vice president would make a play for those traditionally red states.

“We believe that there will be battleground states that have never been battleground states before,” O’Malley Dillon said in a call with reporters. “We feel like the map is really favoring us if you look to recent polling.”

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