Long-stalled bill to boost US microchip manufacturing heads for crucial Senate vote


Senate Democrats plan to forge ahead with a test vote Monday on long-stalled legislation intended to jolt the US production of semiconductor chips that are vital for everything from automobiles to washing machines to military weapons systems.

Known as “Chips-plus,” the bipartisan bill includes more than $50 billion over the next five years for chip manufacturing and a 25% tax credit through 2026 for new chip production.

Proponents of the bill say it will reduce America’s dependence on China and resolve a major supply chain issue that has contributed to high inflation. Opponents, including some Republicans and far-left icon Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, labeled as “corporate welfare” the bill’s $50 billion of funding for the chip manufacturing industry.

The bill also includes money for science-focused measures, such as funding for the National Science Foundation, Commerce Department and the Energy Office of Science.

The bill needs to get 60 votes to survive and is expected to clear that hurdle despite the chamber’s 50-50 split between the parties and the absence of Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, who announced Monday that he tested positive for COVID-19.

The bipartisan support for the bill was demonstrated last week in a 64-34 vote to tee up the bill. Its expected passage will cap off months of tense negotiations over partisan differences that nearly derailed the legislation altogether and deliver a modest win to a White House and Democrats hungry for any sort of permit ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

Congress is also quickly running out of time to put wins on the board ahead of the August recess.

The long-awaited measure, which has been under consideration in various forms on Capitol Hill for more than a year, is supposed to help the US combat China and America’s reliance on the adversary’s chip manufacturing.

President Biden will make a final public relations push for the legislation on Monday before the vote. He is slated to hold a virtual meeting with CEOs and labor leaders to discuss the bill’s importance for bolstering “America’s competitive edge, manufacturing power and national security,” the White House said.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks will also attend the event.

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