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A race by U.S. tech companies to build a new generation of powerful “quantum computers” could get a $1.3 billion boost from Congress, fueled in part by lawmakers’ fear of growing competition from China.

Legislation passed earlier in September by the U.S. House of Representatives would create a 10-year federal program to accelerate research and development of the esoteric technology. As the bill moves to the Senate, where it also has bipartisan support, the White House showed its enthusiasm for the effort by holding a quantum summit this week.

Scientists hope government backing will help attract a

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