WASHINGTON—Securing a rare bipartisan consensus as both parties acknowledged the growing influence of the nation’s biggest geopolitical rival, the U.S. Senate passed a bill Monday allocating $50 billion to compete directly with China by developing pandas on American soil. “If we continue to rely on China for these highly sought-after bears, we may one day wake up and discover we no longer have an adequate supply of giant pandas,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, explaining that if the United States failed to make a substantial investment in its panda infrastructure now, it might find itself forever at the mercy of a powerful Chinese monopoly. “But the days of depending on foreign pandas such as Tian Tian and Mei Xiang will soon be behind us. Over the next decade, our domestic panda program will produce bears that are larger, cuter, and can consume bamboo at twice the rate of their Chinese counterparts. Ask yourself, who should be deciding where these adorable animals are dispatched in nations across the globe? China or the United States? I think the answer is clear, and that’s what this bill represents.” Passage of the bill follows recent intelligence reports indicating China now has the ability, through its panda loan program, to shut down America’s entire network of zoos with a single command from Beijing.
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