US Senate approves multi-billion dollar bill to manufacture semiconductors

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After months of political maneuvering and procedural hurdles, the US Senate has approved a massive science and technology bill to boost US competitiveness with China.

The bill invests billions in emerging technology industries such as artificial intelligence, semiconductors and quantum computing in the United States.

The bill – called the US Innovation and Competition Act, or USICA – builds on an earlier proposal from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the Endless Frontier Act, hailed as one of the first large, bipartisan bills to come from The Biden administration, but over the past few months, a bill that was seen as a must-see for both parties, has been bloated with political fragility and much of the original funding has been watered down as it passes through the Senate process.

In its current form, the bill provides $52 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing, plus a 30% increase in funding for the National Science Foundation and $29 billion for a new science directorate to focus on applied science.

“Whoever wins the race for future technologies will be the global economic leader,” Schumer said in a tweet on Tuesday. “We must invest in science, research and development, manufacturing and innovation.”

The Infinite Boundaries Act was originally intended to provide $100 billion in funding for a new science directorate at the National Science Foundation to promote research in emerging technology areas. Billions will be distributed to regions across the country to build new technology centers and encourage tech companies to find homes outside Silicon Valley. and coasts.

Last month, the deal appeared to be doomed as Republicans abstained from voting to end debate on the bill. Hours after calling for the initial vote, Schumer reached an agreement with Republicans to hold a vote on parts of the bill they were vetoing the following week. Specifically, Republicans were interested in language in the bill requiring prevailing wages for US semiconductor manufacturers. An amendment to delete that language was dropped.

In March, US President Joe Biden introduced a comprehensive infrastructure package known as the American Jobs Plan. The original $2 trillion plan contained funding to expand broadband, roads and highways, and called for $50 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing. A Senate vote represents the next step in Achieving parts of the department’s infrastructure objectives.

Earlier this year, Biden signed an executive order to combat growing concerns about a global shortage of semiconductors, the order called for a 100-day government review of supply chains to address the shortfall in access to chips, and the White House launched a new task force to address these supply chain disruptions .

The USICA approval also provides $10 billion to reshape cities and regions across the United States into “tech hubs,” focusing on research and development in cutting-edge industries and creating new, well-paying tech jobs off the coast. The money will go to the Department of Commerce and the cities will be able to induce The government on why it should be on the receiving end of this money.

“This is certainly a welcome injection of resources,” Mike Wallace, the legislative director for human development at the National Association of Cities, said last week. “This is money that will help local officials, but all stakeholders, to think about economic mobility in a regional way.”

The USICA has faced criticism not only from Republicans, but from progressives such as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Sanders initially voted in favor of the competition bill last month over what he called a “billion-dollar Bezos bailout” that would entitle the $10 billion space project for Amazon CEO Blue Origin to participate in NASA’s upcoming moon mission, codenamed Project Artemis,” Sanders also attempted to negotiate language in the bill that would give the federal government an interest in stock in exchange for semiconductor grants and aid.

The package still needs to go through the House before President Biden can sign it into law. Last Tuesday, Schumer said he was “pretty sure we’re going to get a really good product on the president’s desk,” but it’s unclear how long that will take or how long that will take. Whether the law will change further.



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