Congress has passed a $280 billion proposal designed to lift domestic semiconductor production – after chip shortages caused shutdowns at plants like West Point’s Kia campus – and boost the country’s competitiveness globally.
The bill was voted out of the House Thursday with a 243-187 vote, with two dozen Republicans supporting the proposal. Among Georgia’s delegation, Thursday’s vote fell along party lines.
The measure, called the “chips and science” bill, includes about $52 billion in grants for computer chip production and will spend billions on science and technology innovation, including $81 billion for the National Science Foundation.
The bill now goes to the president’s desk since it already cleared the Senate Wednesday with a 64-33 vote.
“The workers down at the Kia plant in West Point, Georgia won’t have to worry about missing days off work and missing money out of their paycheck because we don’t have enough chips for the cars they make right here in America because we’re going to make more of those chips right here on American soil,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, who served on the committee that hashed out an agreement between the two chambers, said at a press conference held Wednesday.
Bipartisan support for the proposal began to fray after it was scaled down, and there were also reports of Republicans voting against the bill in protest after news broke Wednesday of a new Democrats-only reconciliation package.
Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter, a Pooler Republican, panned the bill as a limited package focused on government-subsidized microchip production.
“This bill, more aptly named the CHIPS and Stagflation Act, lacks the courage to stand up to the Chinese Communist Party,” Carter said in a statement. “All sectors of our economy are hurting – the government cannot be in the business of picking winners and losers.”
President Joe Biden said he would sign the bill into law, giving the beleaguered president a win at a time when his approval rating is under water as the national economy struggles. He said Thursday the measure is “exactly what we need to be doing to grow our economy right now.”
“By making more semiconductors in the United States, this bill will increase domestic manufacturing and lower costs for families,” Biden said in a statement. “And it will strengthen our national security by making us less dependent on foreign sources of semiconductors.
“This bill includes important guardrails to ensure that companies receiving taxpayer dollars invest in America and that union workers are building new manufacturing plants across the country.”
This story was written by Jill Nolin, State Government Reporter at the Georgia Recorder, where this story first appeared.