House Sends CHIPS Act to Biden
WASHINGTON — The House sent the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act to President Joe Biden’s desk with a 243-187 vote Thursday afternoon just before starting its August recess.
The legislation aims to reinvigorate the tech economy by subsidizing the production of semiconductor chips — the electronic circuit boards found in nearly every tech product from phones, computers, cars to many more.
It also pours money into research and development, all while expanding tech hubs across the country. The bipartisan bill drew 24 Republican votes in the lower chamber after passing 64-33 in the Senate Wednesday.
“With the landmark legislation that we will pass today, we will put America back on the path to preeminence, so that we can compete and win in the 21st Century,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on the House floor.
There was a last-minute attempt to whip up votes against the bill Wednesday night when House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., sent a memo to his colleagues after Senate Democrats announced a revived reconciliation deal that tackles prescription drug prices, climate and tax issues.
For weeks prior to the passage of the CHIPS act, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., vowed to kill the legislation if Democrats continued to pursue the reconciliation deal.
Thinking the reconciliation deal was dead, he allowed passage of the CHIPS act, paving the way for investments into semiconductors and research and development, both of which are prioritized for economic and national security reasons to compete primarily with China.
“By passing the CHIPS act, Congress has risen to a defining challenge of our time, seized a historic opportunity to fortify American semiconductor manufacturing, design, and research, and delivered a big win for our country,” said John Neuffer, president and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association, in a statement.
“The bill’s investments in chip production and innovation will strengthen America’s economy and national security – both of which rely heavily on chips – and reinforce our country’s semiconductor supply chains.”
Over the past three decades while uses for semiconductor chips have exploded the U.S. share in the production of chips fell from 37% in 1990 to 12% today, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.
This legislation puts a significant portion of the funds — $52 billion — towards chip manufacturing with $39 billion going directly to building semiconductor manufacturing plants, and another $11.2 billion to research and development to improve semiconductor technology.
There’s also $100 billion for the National Science Foundation’s work to create regional tech hubs that can attract startups that traditionally gravitate towards larger cities.
The bill even creates new rules for family leave for scientists getting this money. It requires the Office of Science and Technology Policy to create guidelines prohibiting discrimination in awarding grants to researchers who take family leave.
All of which was a win for bipartisanship according to Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, which championed the legislation.
“This Congress continues to prove to the American people that it can work in a bipartisan fashion to tackle difficult challenges,” Grumet said in a statement. “When members agree on addressing national security, competitiveness, and clean energy, good things can happen — even in an election year.”
Biden thanked Congress, promising to sign the bill when it gets to his desk.
“The CHIPS and Science Act is exactly what we need to be doing to grow our economy right now. By making more semiconductors in the United States, this bill will increase domestic manufacturing and lower costs for families,” Biden said in a statement. “And, it will strengthen our national security by making us less dependent on foreign sources of semiconductors. This bill includes important guardrails to ensure that companies receiving tax payer dollars invest in America and that union workers are building new manufacturing plants across the country.”