Congress passes bill boosting US semiconductor production

Congress passes bill boosting US semiconductor production

The final vote was 243-187 with one Democrat, Rep. Sara Jacobs of California, whose family founded the Qualcomm telecom company, voting present. Twenty-four Republicans crossed over to join Democrats in backing the bill, despite House GOP leadership whipping against the package.

The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday with broad bipartisan support, meaning it now goes to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

The vote was closer than originally anticipated. Following Senate Democrats’ announcement of a deal on Wednesday evening for a separate economic package, Republican sources told CNN that House GOP leaders would whip against the semiconductor legislation, reversing their earlier stance.

The legislation is aimed at addressing a semiconductor chip shortage and making the US less reliant on other countries such as China for manufacturing. Supporters say the measure is important not only for US technological innovation, but for national security as well.

There had been some concern among Democratic leaders that some progressives might oppose the bill, following opposition from independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Wednesday she hadn’t whipped her members over the legislation, but highlighted discussions with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, whose been the Biden administration’s chief advocate for the package, as a sign that progressives will likely back it. Raimondo met again with members of the Progressive Caucus just a few hours before the vote.

In the end, progressives joined the rest of the party in supporting the bill.

The semiconductor bill sets up incentives for domestic semiconductor manufacturing as well as research and development and includes more than $50 billion in funding for that aim.

The legislation also includes a number of provisions aimed at bolstering scientific research, including authorizing billions of dollars for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Thursday.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify Rep. Sara Jacobs’ relationship to Qualcomm. Her family founded the telecom company, which is now publicly traded.

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