House passes chips and science bill, sending measure to Biden’s desk

The House passed a $280 billion bill on Thursday to strengthen the domestic chip manufacturing industry and finance scientific research in a bid to boost the United States’s competitiveness on the global stage, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk for final approval.

The legislation, titled the CHIPS and Science Act, cleared the House in a 243-187-1 vote. Twenty-four Republicans supported the measure, and one Democrat voted “present.”

GOP lawmakers who supported the measure include Reps. Jim Baird (Ind.), Troy Balderson (Ohio), Mike Carey (Ohio), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Tom Cole (Okla.), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Mike Garcia (Calif.), Bob Gibbs (Ohio), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Kay Granger (Texas), Trey Hollingsworth (Ind.), Chris Jacobs (N.Y.), Bill Johnson (Ohio), Dave Joyce (Ohio), John Katko (N.Y.), Young Kim (Calif.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Michael McCaul (Texas), David McKinley (W.Va.), Peter Meijer (Mich.), Michael Turner (Ohio) and Fred Upton (Mich.).

Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) voted present.

The Senate approved the measure in a bipartisan 64-33 vote on Wednesday, receiving support from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The bill’s passage through both chambers marks a significant congressional achievement and the culmination of more than a year of negotiations over legislation to increase the U.S.’s competitive edge against China.

The House and the Senate initially each passed their own China competition bills, referred to as “America COMPETES” and “USICA,” respectively, but conference negotiations between the two chambers had stalled for weeks. 

Lawmakers ultimately came to a consensus on the CHIPS and Science Act, which will allocate $54 billion for chips and public wireless supply chain innovation, including $39 billion that will go towards financial assistance to build, expand and modernize semiconductor facilities in the U.S. It also includes $11 billion for research and development by the Department of Commerce.

The measure seeks to establish a 25 percent tax credit for investment in semiconductor manufacturing and funnel $81 billion to the National Science Foundation (NSF), $20 billion of which will go towards an NSF directorate.

President Biden said he will sign the measure in a statement following House passage of the bill, writing that it is “exactly what we need to be doing to grow our economy right now.”

The president was passed a note in the middle of an event on the economy Thursday afternoon that alerted him that the House had enough votes to pass the bill. 

“The House has passed it,” he said with a smile. “Sorry for the interruption.”

House Republican leadership revealed on Wednesday evening that it would whip against the bill, reversing from its position earlier in the day that it would not advise conference members on how to vote on the measure.

The about-face came hours after Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced that they struck a $369 billion deal on a climate, taxes and health care package, capping off months of negotiations between Democrats.

Last month, McConnell warned his colleagues across the aisle that he would tank the domestic semiconductor bill if Democrats went ahead with a reconciliation package. Roughly two weeks later, Manchin said he would not get behind climate spending in a reconciliation package, significantly decreasing Democrats’ odds of approving a measure by the November midterm elections.

But shortly after the Senate passed the semiconductor bill, Manchin said he had reached an agreement with Schumer on the reconciliation package, frustrating many Republicans in the House.

The whip memo referenced the reconciliation package and expressed concerns with the impact the measure would have on the deficit and inflation.

Not all Republicans, however, lined up behind leadership.

Cole, the vice ranking Republican of the House Appropriations Committee who voted for the bill, said the measure will help keep China “at bay.”

“Although this is not a perfect bill and not the one I would have written, it is a step in the right direction toward keeping Communist China at bay and protecting our nation’s economic and security interests,” he wrote in a statement following the vote.

Rep. Michael McCaul, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters ahead of the vote that Schumer’s actions were “a grave disservice” that made the measure a “political issue,” but ultimately said he would support the legislation.

“I’m gonna vote for what’s right for the country and national security,” he said.

During debate on the House floor, Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), who also voted for the bill, said the legislation “has the potential to bring transformational investments to my district in central New York, and will take long overdue steps to shore up our domestic supply chain for semiconductors.”

He referenced the Democrats’ reconciliation bill, emphasizing that the two measures must be dealt with separately.

“Like me, I’m sure none of these officials will support the partisan reconciliation package that Democrats are cooking up to raise taxes,” he said, referencing national security officials who worked under former President Trump.

“We can’t control that. We’re not in the majority. This is a separate bill, And we need to focus on what we’re voting on today, not tomorrow, not next week, not next month. It is vital we pass this,” he added.

Other Republicans railed against the reconciliation package and said it led them to oppose the bill on the floor.

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla) — ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology — said his planned remarks on the CHIPS and Science bill changed after Schumer and Manchin unveiled their reconciliation package.

“I’m frankly, in all fairness, disgusted by the developments over the last 24 hours,” Lucas said.

“I remain incredibly proud of the good work we’ve done to strategically strengthen American research and development. And yet, I cannot ignore the fact that the immense tax hikes and irresponsible spending in the expanded reconciliation package changed the calculus when it comes to supporting spending bills, particularly a bill that has come to be tied to reconciliation,” he later added.

House Majority Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that without the bill, the U.S.’s competitive edge would be “squandered.”

“This is a good piece of legislation. It’s not the piece of legislation that I would’ve written. But it is a good piece of legislation that does good things for America,” Hoyer said on the House floor during debate. “And more importantly, good things for our competitive status in the world,” he said at a separate point during his floor speech.”

Morgan Chalfant contributed

This story was updated at 6:29 p.m.

Tags China competition bill CHIPS and Science Act Chuck Schumer Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Katko Michael McCaul Mitch McConnell Tom Cole

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