Senate passes bill to boost US computer chip production

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill to encourage more semiconductor companies to build chip factories in the United States passed the Senate on Wednesday as lawmakers rushed to finish work on a key priority of the Biden administration.

The $280 billion measure, which awaits a House vote, includes federal grants and tax breaks for companies that build their chip facilities in the United States. The legislation also directs Congress to dramatically increase spending on high-tech research programs that lawmakers say will help the country remain economically competitive for decades to come.

Passage to the Senate came by a vote of 64-33. The House vote is expected later this week as lawmakers try to wrap up their business before returning to their home states and districts in August. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said she was confident there was enough GOP support to overcome potential defections from Democrats who view the grant effort to spur semi-corporate businesses. -drivers as a misplaced priority.

Proponents of the legislation say other countries are spending billions of dollars to lure chipmakers. Donors say the United States must do the same or risk losing a secure supply of the semiconductors that power automobiles, computers, appliances and some of the military’s most advanced weapons systems. .

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., said the bill represents one of the nation’s largest investments in science and manufacturing in decades and that with the approval of the Senate, “we say that America’s best years are yet to come”.

Opponents criticized the price of the bill. It is expected to increase federal deficits by about $79 billion over 10 years.

President Joe Biden said the bill would create jobs and cut costs for a wide range of products, from cars to dishwashers.

“For decades some ‘experts’ have said we have to ditch manufacturing in America. I never believed that. Manufacturing jobs are back,” Biden said. “Thanks to this bill, we will have even more. The House should pass it quickly and send this bill to my office.

The bill has been in the works for years, beginning with efforts by Schumer and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., to increase government investment in high-tech research and development. Although the bill took several twists and turns, a consistent theme that lawmakers repeatedly emphasized during Wednesday’s debate was the need to keep up with China’s massive investment in cutting-edge technology.

The Chinese government plans to “win the (artificial intelligence) race, win future wars, and win the future,” Young said. “And the truth is, if we’re honest with ourselves, Beijing is well on its way to achieving those goals.”

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said, “Unfortunately, we are not in command of a range of important technologies. China is. Congress, he said, now has “a chance to pull us back in the right direction and put America back in a position to win the game.”