Congress approves bill to help computer chip companies, against China | Lifestyles


KEVIN FREKING – Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Thursday passed a $280 billion package to boost the semiconductor industry and scientific research in an effort to create more high-tech jobs in the United States and the help to better compete with its international rivals, namely China.

The House approved the bill by a solid margin of 243 to 187, sending the measure to President Joe Biden to sign into law and handing the White House a major victory in domestic politics. Twenty-four Republicans voted for the legislation.

“Today the House passed a bill that will make cars cheaper, appliances cheaper, and computers cheaper,” Biden said. “It will reduce the costs of everyday goods. And it will create well-paying manufacturing jobs across the country and at the same time strengthen American leadership in the industries of the future.”

As the vote took place, Biden was discussing the economy with White House CEOs. During the event, he received a note telling him it was clear the bill would pass – a development that produced a round of applause before the count was final.

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Republicans argued the government shouldn’t spend billions to subsidize the semiconductor industry, and GOP leaders in the House recommended a vote against the bill, telling members the plan would provide huge subsidies and tax credits “to a specific industry that doesn’t need additional government subsidies.”

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., said the way to help the industry would be to lower taxes and ease federal regulations, “not pick winners and losers” with subsidies — a approach that Representative Joseph Morelle, DN.Y. , said was too narrow.

“It affects every industry in the United States,” Morelle said. “Take, for example, General Motors announcing that they have 95,000 automobiles waiting for chips. So you want to increase the supply of goods to people and help reduce inflation? supply of goods throughout the United States in every industry.”

Some Republicans viewed the passage of the legislation as important to national security. Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said protecting semiconductor capability in the United States was critical and the country was overly dependent on Taiwan for the most popular chips. more advanced. This could prove to be a major vulnerability should China attempt to seize control of the self-governing island which Beijing considers a breakaway province.

“I have unique insight into this. I get the classified briefing. Not all of these members do,” McCaul said. “It’s vitally important to our national security.”

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 calls for increased spending on various research programs that would total around $200 billion. over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO also projected that the bill would increase deficits by about $79 billion over the next decade.

A late development in the Senate — progress Democrats announced Wednesday night on a $739 billion health care and climate change package — threatened to make it harder for supporters to get the bill across the finish line on semiconductors, due to concerns about government spending that GOP lawmakers said would fuel inflation.

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said he was “disgusted” by the turn of events.

Despite bipartisan support for the research initiatives, “unfortunately, and more regrettably than you can imagine, I will not be voting for the CHIPS and Science Act today,” Lucas said.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, likened the bill’s spending to “corporate welfare to be doled out to whoever President Biden wants.”

Before the vote, it was unclear whether any House Democrats would join Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in voting against the bill; in the end, none did.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo spoke to several of the most progressive members of the Democratic caucus in a meeting before the vote, stressing that the proposal was a key part of the president’s agenda and that Democrats needed to mobilize for him at this important moment.

Some Republicans have criticized the bill as not being tough enough on China, and GOP leaders have underscored that point by recommending a “no” vote. Their advice acknowledged the threat China poses to U.S. supply chains, but said the package “will not effectively address this significant challenge.”

But, as McCaul pointed out, China opposed the measure and worked against it. The bill includes a provision that prohibits any semiconductor company receiving financial assistance through the bill from supporting advanced chip manufacturing in China.

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, commenting ahead of the House vote, said the United States “should not put up barriers to science, technology and trade and normal people-to-people cooperation” and “much less should they suppress or undermine China’s legitimate rights to development.”

Associated Press video producer Liu Zheng in Beijing and AP writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

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