This week: Congress awaits movement on semiconductor bill
The House and Senate this week are awaiting movement on a highly anticipated bill to bolster the domestic semiconductor industry, which lawmakers say will improve the United States’ competitiveness with China.
The bill, which advanced in the Senate with bipartisan support last week, would allocate tens of billions of dollars to increase computer chip manufacturing in the U.S., and provide tax credits for investments in semiconductor manufacturing.
The Senate is expected to hold a final vote this week on the legislation — Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act — sending it to the House for consideration.
After consideration of the semiconductor legislation, lawmakers may take up a marriage equality bill or a resolution supporting the addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO.
On the House side, lawmakers are slated to consider a number of bills, including measures that would ban big cat ownership and codify telehealth policies, that were first introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
House, Senate await movement on CHIPS-plus
The Senate voted 64-34 last week to proceed to a legislative vehicle that will carry the CHIPS-plus bill — an expanded version of the initial legislation.
The measure includes more than $52 billion for the semiconductor industry, including $39 billion to improve domestic facilities and equipment for manufacturing. It would also establish a 25 percent tax credit and other incentives for investments in semiconductor manufacturing.
After the vote last week, which was bipartisan and broke a legislative filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) filed a more than 1,000-page amendment filled with funding for the National Science Foundation, the Commerce Department, the Energy Office of Science, and more.
The measure is meant to combat global shortages of semiconductor chips, which have led car manufacturers to decrease production or increase sticker prices. It is also being considered as a way to decrease the U.S.’s reliance on China.
Both the House and Senate previously approved larger pieces of legislation aimed at making the U.S. more competitive with China, but the bills — referred to in the House as “America COMPETES” and in the Senate as “USICA” — have since stalled amid conference negotiations between the chambers.
As talks dragged on, Biden administration officials encouraged Congress to first pass the domestic semiconductor component of the bill.
A cloture vote is slated for Monday. If the measure garners enough support to break the 60-vote legislative filibuster, senators can vote on final passage on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The legislation then heads to the House, where leaders have said they intend to take it up immediately.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Friday said the lower chamber “will act on this bill as soon as it is ready.”
“Addressing the global semiconductor shortage is crucial to tackling inflation and ensuring that America can compete with the rest of the world,” he added in a statement.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday, during a roundtable discussion on semiconductor chips, said she wants to see “a strong bipartisan vote” pass the bill.
The House is set to break for August recess on Friday.
Potential movement on marriage equality, NATO expansion
After the Senate holds a vote on the CHIPS-plus bill, the balance of the week remains in question, with potential movements on a pair of House-passed measures.
The first bill the Senate may take up is the Respect for Marriage Act, which would protect same-sex marriage at the federal level.
The House passed the bill in a 267-157 vote last week, with 47 Republicans joining all Democrats in backing the measure. It would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a bill former President Clinton enacted that refers to marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife,” and ensure that same-sex marriages are protected on the federal level.
The lower chamber brought up the legislation less than one month after the Supreme Court issued a ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, putting abortion rights in jeopardy in states across the country. In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas called on the court to revisit substantive due process precedents created by the court, including landmark cases protecting LGBTQ rights.
Senate Democrats are now looking to pass the bill, which needs at least 60 votes to clear the chamber. GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Rob Portman (Ohio) are co-sponsoring the Senate measure. Portman has said it is a “possibility” that the measure receives 10 Republicans to break a filibuster.
Schumer completed the process last week for placing the bill on the calendar.
The Senate could also move on a resolution expressing support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO, which the House approved in a bipartisan 394-18 vote last week.
The measure also opposes efforts by the Russian Federation to adversely respond to the Nordic countries’ decisions to join the military alliance.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he wants a vote to accept the resolution this week.
House takes up big cat legislation, COVID-19 telehealth bill
This House is set to consider a measure this week that would prevent private ownership of big cats and ban cub petting.
Rep Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), the sponsor of the measure, said it is meant to bolster safety in communities, safeguard first responders and protect animals.
The lower chamber previously cleared the bill, titled the Big Cat Public Safety Act, in a bipartisan 272-114 vote in December 2020. The Senate, however, did not take up the legislation, prompting Quigley, the sponsor of the bill, to reintroduce it this Congress.
The Rules Committee is set to debate the measure on Tuesday. A companion bill under the same name was introduced in the Senate last month by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
Carole Baskin, who appeared in the popular Netflix documentary series “Tiger King,” has been supportive of the measure.
The House is also slated to consider the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act, which would codify telehealth policies that were first enacted during the coronavirus pandemic.
Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), sponsors of the bill, have said the legislation will make it easier for older individuals, especially those living in rural locations, to access new health care technology.
The Rules committee is scheduled to meet on the bill on Tuesday.