Schumer readies vote on scaled-back computer chips bill
Washington – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is telling senators to expect an initial vote as early as Tuesday on scaled-back legislation that would provide grants, tax credits and other financial incentives for companies that build semiconductor manufacturing plants in the U.S.
Both the House and Senate have passed sweeping bills that included numerous trade provisions, additional dollars for research and called for the development of regional technology hubs across the country. But lawmakers have struggled to reach a final compromise that could generate 60 votes in the Senate, the number needed to overcome procedural hurdles.
Lacking a larger agreement, Schumer, D-N.Y., will move to take up a “limited competition bill” that includes the $52 billion in financial incentives and research that was at the heart of the bills passed in the House and the Senate. It would also include a semiconductor investment tax credit, and additional pieces could be added if they’re ready.
Schumer’s plans were described by a person familiar with the private deliberations who was granted anonymity to discuss them.
The Biden administration has ramped up its advocacy for the semi-conductor bill in recent days, calling it essential that lawmakers take action before the August recess.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and other administration officials met behind closed doors with senators on Wednesday to discuss the national security ramifications of relying on foreign countries for computer chip production.
“Bottom line is there are very real, very devastating consequences if Congress doesn’t do its job in the month of July,” Raimondo said.
Those consequences mean not only lost job opportunities for the U.S., but an overdependency on other nations for semiconductors that are crucial for products ranging from cars and cellphones to modern weapons systems. Under the bill, funding from the federal government would be used to subsidize some of the cost of building or renovating semiconductor plants in the United States.
Raimondo says computer chipmakers are already being offered lucrative incentives from other countries such as South Korea, Japan, France, Germany and Singapore to locate plants there. She cited Monday’s announcement by STMicroelectronics and GlobalFoundries to build a semiconductor factory in France as an example of other countries moving faster than the U.S. on the issue.