House to vote on bill to subsidize US-made semiconductor chips


The House is expected to vote Thursday on the $280 billion Chips and Science Act, a bill that would subsidize domestic semiconductor manufacturing and invest billions in science and technology innovation, with the goal of boosting competitiveness and US autonomy in what is considered a key industry for economic and national security.

The Senate passed the bill Wednesday by a vote of 64 to 33. Days earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said there would also be bipartisan support for passing the bill. bill in the House and had pledged to send it to President Biden’s office as soon as possible. At the time, House Republican leaders planned to let their base vote their conscience on the bill.

However, after stunning news Wednesday night of an agreement between Sen. Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) and Democratic leaders on a separate climate, health care and tax bill, House leaders GOP are urging members to oppose the chip bill as retaliation, potentially robbing Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) of a legislative victory.

Before the House GOP decided to oppose the chip bill, supporters of the legislation thought they could garner considerable support from Republicans — possibly as many as 20 votes, according to people familiar with the matter. the count of the voices who spoke on condition of anonymity. discuss the matter freely. They said House GOP leaders still expected defections, but not overwhelming numbers.

Some members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have also been disgusted with the bill — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was publicly critical and voted against it Wednesday — and there are fears its passage could be in jeopardy if supportive lawmakers wane. .

Democratic executive aides are telegraphing they have the votes, but some liberals are waiting to hear Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s speech in a virtual meeting Thursday afternoon before making a final decision. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the Progressive Caucus, told Punchbowl News she had reassuring discussions with Raimondo about the guardrails in the flea bill that prohibit businesses who receive federal funding to use the money for stock buybacks.

In the House Thursday, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) slammed the bill as a “$280 billion blank check” to the semiconductor industry, saying it always opposed it. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) criticized the legislation as one that would only benefit “one industry,” and several GOP lawmakers urged their colleagues to vote no.

Rep. Joseph Morelle (DN.Y.) countered by saying there were few industries that didn’t use semiconductor chips.

“Chips make everything work. So whether it’s your cell phone, your laptop, your automobile, it really isn’t question. Children’s toys contain fleas,” Morelle said. “And the thing is, we’ve lost our competitive edge… It’s not just one industry. It’s about every industry.

Later, Morelle read aloud from the House floor the praise for the legislation — from Senate Republicans who had voted to pass it the day before.

Biden said the legislation was high on his agenda and called on Congress to get the bill to his desk as soon as possible. On Wednesday, he hailed the bill as a response to American concerns about the state of the economy and the cost of living.

“It will accelerate semiconductor manufacturing in America, driving down the prices of everything from cars to dishwashers,” Biden said in a statement. “It will also create jobs – well-paying jobs right here in the United States. It will mean more resilient American supply chains, so we will never be so dependent on foreign countries for the critical technologies we need for American consumers and national security.

If the bill passes, about $52 billion would go to microchip makers to encourage the construction of domestic semiconductor manufacturing plants — or “fabs” — to manufacture the chips, which are used in a wide variety of products, including motor vehicles, mobile phones, medical equipment and military weapons. A shortage of semiconductor chips during the coronavirus pandemic has caused price hikes and supply chain disruptions across multiple industries.

The bill also includes about $100 billion in authorizations over five years for programs like expanding the work of the National Science Foundation and creating regional tech hubs to support start-ups in regions across the country. that haven’t traditionally attracted big tech funding.

During a White House meeting with business and labor leaders on Monday, Raimondo noted that the United States used to make 40% of the world’s chips, but now makes about 12% – and “essentially none state-of-the-art chips”, which come almost entirely from Taiwan.

The United States has invested “almost nothing” in semiconductor manufacturing, while China has invested $150 billion to build domestic capacity, Raimondo said. She also said it was essential that the United States be able to compete with countries that subsidize semiconductor companies to build factories.

“Chip funding will be the deciding factor as to where these companies choose to expand,” Raimondo said. “We want them, we need them, to grow here in the United States.”

The legislation includes provisions prohibiting companies from building most types of new semiconductor manufacturing facilities in China “or any other foreign country of concern” for a decade after receiving federal funding.

Jeanne Whalen contributed to this report.

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