A bill authorizing $280 billion to boost the country’s manufacturing and technological competitiveness against China is one step closer to becoming a law.
The legislation, called CHIPS and Science Act, would provide $52 billion in subsidies and grants for the domestic chip manufacturing industry and over $100 billion for technology and sciences investments, including $81 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF). It will also establish a 25 percent tax credit for investment in semiconductor manufacturing.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the bill in a 243-187-1 vote that saw most Republican lawmakers voting “no” and 24 voting “yes” with Democrats. A day earlier, the Senate also cleared it in a bipartisan 64-33 vote.
Lawmakers who voted against the bill argued that it would place billions in taxpayer money in subsidies and tax credits for an industry that does not deserve government handouts.
“To make more profits, these companies took government money and used it to ship good-paying jobs abroad,” said Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT). “Now, as a reward for that bad behavior, these same companies are in line to receive a massive taxpayer handout to undo the damage that they did.”
According to the bill’s proponents, the investment is necessary if the U.S. wants to compete with China.
“This Chips and Science bill will create millions of good-paying jobs and it will help lower costs and help protect America’s national security interests,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer during the senate deliberations on Wednesday.
Previous attempts by the House and the Senate to pass separate bills that would help the U.S. compete against China failed to push through after conference negotiations between the chambers dragged on for weeks. The legislators eventually found common ground on the CHIPS and Science Act.
With the bill passing through both chambers, all it needs now is the signature of President Joe Biden, who had earlier asked members of the lower house to “put politics aside” and “get it done.”
“We need to lower the cost of automobiles, appliances, smartphones, consumer electronics and so much more,” he was quoted as saying.
Biden later said after the vote that the bill is “exactly what we need to be doing to grow our economy right now.”