As part of a series of votes on Wednesday, a majority of Senate Democrats joined with Republicans to block an effort by Bernie Sanders to stop corporations from outsourcing U.S. jobs and preventing workers from forming labor unions.
Wednesday's vote was one of 28 addressing non-binding motions to instruct conferees on a science and research bill, dubbed the "United States Innovation and Competition Act" (H.R.4521), which was introduced in the House of Representatives last year. The bill would, among other things, provide future funding for semiconductor manufacturing but also attempts to address the COVID-19 pandemic by hitting main areas of a longtime complaint by Republicans, like the prohibition of federal funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology and addressing China's "influence on institutions of higher education." It also imposes sanctions on China over cybersecurity concerns as well as human rights abuses while upping foreign aid for countries in the Indo-Pacific region. While debating the bill in the Senate, twenty motions were bought by Republicans, while just eight were filed by Democrats.
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One motion, filed by independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, was blocked in an overwhelming fashion. The rejected motion would have blocked semiconductor manufacturers that would receive funding from H.R.4521 from outsourcing jobs located in the U.S. and preventing staffers from unionizing. Every single Democrat in the Senate objected to Sanders' motion, with the exception of Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
Sanders' motion comes as the U.S. faces an unprecedented semiconductor shortage as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Democrats in Congress are also currently pushing the PRO Act, a federal effort to expand labor protections. On Thursday, labor organizers from Amazon went to the White House to meet with President Biden after their successful drive to form a workers' union in New York.