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House OKs CHIPS Act to Boost US Semiconductor Manufacturing

The sweeping competition bill, which offers $280 billion in funding for high-tech research, development, and manufacturing in the US, now goes to President Biden for his signature.

By Rob Pegoraro

Semiconductor manufacturing and a host of other high-tech activities—from nuclear fusion to drone transportation to particle-accelerator research—stand to get a boost from a bill now headed to President Biden for his signature.

The House’s 243–187 vote Thursday for the CHIPS And Science Act followed the Senate’s 64–33 vote Wednesday for this bill, which in turn came months after each chamber had passed different, larger tech-competition measures built around it.

The core of the $280 billion CHIPS Act—that’s short for “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors”—is $52.7 billion in funding to promote the US manufacture of semiconductor chips and help alleviate the chip shortage. The money will pay for factory-construction incentives, provide workforce training, pay for targeted tax credits, and underwrite loans and loan guarantees to qualifying companies.

In June, for example, Intel pointed to that funding as a critical-path item for it to build out a planned chip facility in Ohio to its full $100 billion scope. Intel had announced plans for that location in January as a $20 billion venture to start.

The 1,054-page text (PDF), as outlined in a 39-page summary (PDF), also provides funding for research and development activities across a range of government agencies. Its cast of characters includes the Department of Energy (the bill will support research into energy storage, carbon sequestration, nuclear fission and fusion power, particle physics, and more), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (information security, digital identity, and support for domestic manufacturing), the National Science Foundation (for example, expanding STEM education, supporting tech workforce training, and boosting diversity and research security in tech fields), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (for instance, work to counter ocean acidification), and NASA (operating the International Space Station through 2030 and integrating drone flights into the national air transportation system, among others).

The CHIPS Act, however, is considerably slimmer than its two parent bills, the House’s America COMPETES Act and the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act. The former featured provisions to establish a startup visa program and incorporated a bill to hold online retail platforms liable for counterfeit goods sold on their sites, while the latter included foreign-aid programs intended to counter the influence of China.

In a statement Thursday, Biden said he would sign the CHIPS Act.

“By making more semiconductors in the United States, this bill will increase domestic manufacturing and lower costs for families,” he said. “And, it will strengthen our national security by making us less dependent on foreign sources of semiconductors.”

Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.



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