By JOSH BOAK, AAMER MADHANI and ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden wants to shine a light on a rare bipartisan down payment on American manufacturing when he visits Ohio Friday for the grand opening of a new Intel computer chip facility.
Biden heads to suburban Columbus for a victory lap just as voters across the state begin tuning in to a hotly contested Senate race between Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan and the Republican author and capital executive -risk JD Vance. They’re competing in a former swing state that’s had a Republican streak for the past decade.
Intel had delayed the grand opening of the $20 billion plant until Congress passed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act. Ryan and Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who is up against Democrat Nan Whaley in her re-election bid, plan to be at Friday’s inauguration.
In his State of the Union address last March, Biden saw the Intel factory as a model for an American economy that revolves around technology, factories and the middle class. The factory shows how the president is trying to revive American manufacturing nationwide, including in solidly Republican or political states.
Chipmaker Micron has committed $15 billion for a factory in Idaho, Corning will build a fiber optic facility in Arizona and First Solar plans to build its fourth solar panel factory in the Southeast, all announcements stemming from initiatives of the Biden administration.
Factory work is one of the few issues addressed in November’s midterm elections that has crossover appeal at a time when issues such as abortion, inflation and the nature of democracy have dominated the race for congressional control.
Ryan had been largely reluctant to share a stage with Biden because appearing with the nation’s top Democrat could hurt his chances in a state that backed Republican Donald Trump by eight points in 2016 and 2020.
Ryan skipped the president’s July 6 visit to Cleveland to plug his administration’s efforts to shore up struggling retirement programs for blue-collar workers. Biden nonetheless referred to him as “future senator Tim Ryan” and thanked him for his “incredible work” on the legislation.
The Youngstown-area congressman has pledged to appear with Biden this week because of the significance of Intel’s installation in a state that has long defined itself through its factories, plants and communities. working-class sensitivities.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” Ryan told CNN on Sunday. “The CHIPS law that we passed aims to relocate high-end manufacturing jobs.”
Still, in a Thursday TV interview with Youngstown’s WFMJ on the eve of Biden’s visit, Ryan said he “campaigns as an independent.” When asked if Biden should run for a second term, Ryan said, “My hunch is that we need new leadership at all levels, Democrats, Republicans, I think it’s time for a change. generational.”
The open Senate seat in Ohio, currently held by retired Republican Senator Rob Portman, is one of many hotly contested races that could determine whether Democrats can hold onto their slim majority in the chamber through the second half of the Biden’s tenure.
Several Democrats in competitive races have at times sought to maintain some distance from Biden, whose public approval ratings have risen in recent weeks but remain underwater.
A spokesperson said DeWine also plans to attend the groundbreaking, making him one of the few Republicans on the ballot this year who are willing to share a stage with the president. Biden has said in recent weeks that hardline Republican lawmakers who refuse to accept the 2020 election results are a threat to democracy, a charge that has only heightened partisan tensions with scrutiny of the House and the Senate in play.
Vance, the Republican Senate candidate from Ohio, hailed the Intel plant in a statement as “a great bipartisan victory” for the state. He specifically applauded the “hard work” of GOP lawmakers, including DeWine and Portman, but Vance made no mention of Biden.
The shortage of semiconductors has plagued the US and global economies. It cut production of automobiles, appliances and other goods in a way that fueled high inflation, while creating national security risks as the United States recognized its dependence on vis-à-vis Asia for the production of chips.
The mix of high prices and long expectations for commodities has left many Americans unhappy with Biden’s economic leadership, a political weakness that has eased somewhat as gas prices have fallen and many voters worried about the loss of abortion protections after the Supreme Court. quashed Roe v. Wade.
The new law would provide $28 billion in incentives for semiconductor production, $10 billion for new chip manufacturing and $11 billion for research and development. The funding follows similar efforts by Europe and China to ramp up production of chips, which political leaders see as essential for economic and military competition.
Biden touted the legislation as a “one-time investment in America” that could reduce US reliance on Taiwan and South Korea at a time when China seeks to expand its presence across Asia and its waterways.
Lawmakers have designed semiconductor investments to favor areas outside of the more affluent coastal cities where technology dominates. This means that changes will occur in the city of New Albany, Ohio, where the Intel factory is being built, as well as in nearby Johnstown.
Sporting goods store owner and longtime Johnstown resident Don Harvey likes the idea of a company making things in the United States again and also offering potentially well-paying jobs for his five little ones. -children. Intel said the average salary for its 3,000 Ohio employees would be $135,000.
“What an opportunity in my eyes for Ohio and the United States as a whole,” the 63-year-old Harvey said.
Elyse Priest lives in a housing estate just up the road from the factory and recently got a first-hand look at construction watching a massive cloud of dust roll in from the 1,000-acre site being leveled. Priest, 38, also knows the widening of the road and increased traffic will affect her commute to downtown Columbus where she works as a legal assistant.
“I’m afraid I’ll lose the small-town feel I’ve always had and loved in Johnstown,” Priest said. “But I know it will be a greater good for the whole state.”
Welsh-Huggins reported from Columbus.