WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday approved a sweeping bipartisan bill to boost domestic production of computer chips, giving President Joe Biden a badly needed legislative victory before he leaves Washington for the summer recess.
House members approved the legislation, which includes roughly $52 billion in incentives for the semiconductor industry, by a 243-187 vote. Twenty-four Republicans supported GOP leaders and joined Democrats in approving the bill, while every Republican abstained. The Senate approved the legislation on Wednesday.
Reducing the United States’ reliance on chips made in China is a priority for Biden. He urged Congress to take swift action to improve US output of semiconductors, framing the issue as an economic and national security imperative.
During a White House roundtable, an aide handed Biden a note with business leaders informing them of the bill’s passage. “Sorry to interrupt!” The President said with a smile, telling the others the law allowed the House.
In a prepared statement after the vote, Biden said the bill would make cars, computers and appliances affordable, calling the legislation “exactly what we need to do right now to grow our economy.”
“By making more semiconductors in the United States, this bill will increase domestic production and lower costs for families. And, it will strengthen our national security by making us less dependent on foreign sources of semiconductors,” the president said.
- What legislators passed: In addition to incentives for manufacturing semiconductors, including grants, companies building chip plants in the US will be eligible for a 25% tax break. Lawmakers also approved $200 billion for scientific research.
- How the Senate Voted: Senators approved the bill 64-33 on Wednesday. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, was the lone Democratic caucus member who voted no.
- What’s in it for the masses: Proponents of the bill say the investment will help America avoid future supply chain shortages and lower the cost of goods in the long run.
what is going to happen
The bill heads to Biden’s desk for his signature. White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that Biden would sign it as soon as possible.
Biden promised tougher reviews of grant money provided to businesses investing in semiconductor manufacturing, pledging at a White House event that his administration would claw back any money that was misused.
Democratic lawmakers and the White House will now turn their attention to passing legislation that would lower the cost of prescription drugs, increase healthcare subsidies and fund new climate and energy initiatives. Before Congress leaves Washington for a planned summer recess.
It will take time for consumers to feel the impact of the government’s new spending on the production of computer chips.
As Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said this week, the financial incentives will affect “companies’ decision-making almost immediately” and hopefully expand their operations in the US.
But he admitted: “This is a long-term project, a long-term national project with important economic and national security consequences, and its ultimate impact will be felt over years.”
Which they discussed
- Before the vote, Biden urged lawmakers to “put the politics aside, get it done.”
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the bill “a great victory for the American people,” “powering America’s priorities in both basic research and next-generation technologies.”
- Rap. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, denounced the bill as “a green light for higher taxes, corporate welfare and worse inflation in the future.”
- Rap. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said that while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe can’t “in good conscience” vote for the CHIPs bill as the country prepares to be “bulldozed” by Wednesday’s budget deal. Manchin, DW.
- Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., urged his Republican colleagues not to oppose the CHIPS bill in exchange for a budget deal.
- “It will transform the industrial Midwest,” Rep. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said the bill’s passage by Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor maker, led to plans to invest $100 billion in new factories in Ohio.
What else do they say?
- In the Senate, Sanders blasted the CHIPs bill as “corporate welfare,” while Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott said he was concerned the spending would “cause more inflation.”
- Earlier this week, Biden said in a meeting with CEOs and labor leaders, “This bill is not about giving blank checks to companies.”
- “The bill requires that I personally sign the largest grant before it is dispersed,” Biden promised.
- Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the U.S. It once made 40 percent of chips worldwide but now makes about 12 percent. “We essentially don’t make any of the leading-edge chips, and we’re completely dependent on Taiwan for the leading-edge chips,” she said.
Why is it important?
Democratic members of Congress in swing states and districts face an especially tough election battle this fall. Americans are pessimistic about the economy and especially frustrated with Biden’s leadership When it comes to controlling inflation and the economy.
House members hope to begin an extended recess this week, and senators will soon follow. It’s a crucial campaign period for lawmakers from both political parties heading to the polls in November. The semiconductor legislation gives the bill’s supporters something to talk about with their constituents.
Biden could also offer the bill’s passage as proof that his strategy of working with Republicans to pass the resulting legislation is working.
Reach Francesca Chambers on Twitter @fran_chambers and Joey Garrison @joeygarrison.