- A bipartisan group of senators voted to advance a bill boosting the US semiconductor industry.
- By a 64-32 vote, senators advanced what is known as CHIPS plus.
- The legislation would provide $52 billion to boost US semiconductor production.
A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday advanced legislation to provide billions in federal support for the semiconductor industry and to expand some federal research grants.
The Senate voted 64-32 to move the legislation, known in Washington, DC, as CHIPS plus, to final passage. The bipartisan vote broke a filibuster, which means that the bill needed 60 votes to advance. Final Senate passage could come soon as today or Wednesday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was among the Republicans who voted in favor of advancing the bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it clear that her chamber will move to send the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk as soon as possible. Passing the legislation into law would mark another bipartisan victory in the Senate that has recently passed gun law reforms and appears poised to change the centuries-old law governing how Congress formally certifies the winner of a presidential election.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has long played a key role in pushing the legislation.
But the bill is not without its detractors. Sen. Bernie Sanders voted against it.
Sanders, an independent from Vermont, has railed against $52 billion in the legislation that would go to boosting companies expanding semiconductor manufacturing in the US. Sanders has argued the money would reward companies that have previously offshored US production and compared it to a “bribe” for manufacturers to stay in the US.
“The five biggest semi-conductor companies that will likely receive the lion’s share of this taxpayer handout, Intel, Texas Instruments, Micron Technology, Global Foundries and Samsung, made $70 billion in profits last year. Does it sound like these companies really need corporate welfare,” Sanders said in a recent statement.
Conservative House Republicans and some of Sanders’ GOP colleagues have echoed his skepticism. Axios previously reported that an influential group of House conservatives privately called the bill a “fake so-called ‘China’ bill.”
The legislation the Senate advanced on Tuesday is the latest iteration of a years-long, mostly bipartisan effort to craft legislation boosting the semiconductor industry and thwarting China’s rise. More ambitious legislation previously passed the House and Senate, but the two chambers struggled to reconcile the differences between their proposals. McConnell further complicated measures when he linked the defeat of Democrats’ economic agenda to the CHIPS bill advancing.