WASHINGTON- A bill designed 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 initiative should lead directly to more facilities and jobs in Texas and across the country.
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-Calif., said she was confident there was enough GOP support to overcome potential defections from Democrats who view the grant effort to spur businesses from semiconductors as a misplaced priority.
Seventeen Republicans, including Texan John Cornyn, voted for the measure in the Senate. The other GOP senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, voted no. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., broke with Democrats by voting against the bill.
Cruz said the bill had “laudable” goals, but it was not the right approach to achieve them, calling it “corporate welfare.”
“I’m all for using the tax code to incentivize manufacturers to make semiconductors in America, but when the feds just give billions of taxpayer dollars directly to big business, it invites cronyism. and corruption,” Cruz said. “Corporate welfare is the wrong approach to solving a serious problem.”
Proponents of the legislation say other countries are spending billions of dollars to lure chipmakers. Donors say the United States must follow suit or risk losing a secure supply of 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 have been critical of the invoice price. 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 ‘pundits’ have said that we should abandon 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.”
The bill provides more than $52 billion in grants and other incentives for the semiconductor industry as well as a 25% tax credit for companies that invest in chip factories in the United States. United. It plans to spend about $200 billion on various research activities over 10 years, though Congress will have to follow through by including that money in future spending bills.
The House could take up the bill as early as Thursday.
While most Republicans are expected to oppose it, some of the top Republicans on national security committees — Representatives Michael McCaul of Texas, Michael Turner of Ohio and John Katko of New York — support the measure. The same goes for many Republicans in a bipartisan group called the Problem Solvers Caucus, made up of moderates from both parties.