'America is delivering': Biden signs bipartisan computer chips bill into law

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed a sweeping bipartisan bill that aims to boost domestic manufacturing of computer chips and counter China's edge in that sector.

“Today's a day for builders," Biden said in remarks before signing the bill. "Today, America is delivering. And I honest to god believe that 50, 75, 100 years from now, people will look back on this week, they'll know that we met this moment."

The bill, which Congress approved at the end of July, includes roughly $52 billion in incentives for the semiconductor industry.

Reducing the United States' reliance on chips produced in China has been a priority for Biden. He had urged Congress to take swift action to improve U.S. output of semiconductors, framing the issue as an economic and national security imperative.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Biden recalled telling Chinese President Xi Jinping that the United States can be described with the word “possibilities.”

“In America, everything is possible. We believe everything and anything is possible. It’s part of the soul of this country,” Biden said. “The CHIPS and Science Act is going to inspire a whole new generation of Americans to answer that question: ‘What’s next?’”

  • What lawmakers passed: In addition to incentives to manufacture semiconductors, including grants, companies that build chip plants in the U.S. will be eligible for a 25% tax break. Lawmakers also approved $200 billon for scientific research.

  • How the House voted: House members approved the legislation in late July by a 243-187 vote. Twenty-four Republicans bucked GOP leaders and joined Democrats to approve the bill, while every no vote came from a Republican.

  • How the Senate voted: Senators approved the bill 64-33 in late July. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, was the lone Democratic caucus member to vote no.

  • What's in it for the public: Supporters of the bill say the investment will help America avoid future supply chain shortages and bring down the cost of goods in the long-term.

Top takeaways

It will take time for consumers to feel the impact of the new government spending on computer chips manufacturing.

As National Economic Council director Brian Deese said in July, financial incentives will affect "companies’ decision-making almost immediately" and hopefully cause them to expand their operations in the U.S.

But he acknowledged: "This is a long-term project, a long-term national project that is of vital economic and national security consequence, and the ultimate impact of that will be felt over the course of years."

What they debated

  • Prior to the vote in July, Biden urged lawmakers to "put politics aside, get it done."

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the bill a "resounding victory for the American people," applauding investments she said will "power America's preeminence in both basic research and next generation technologies."

  • Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, slammed the bill as a "green light for higher taxes, corporate welfare and even worse inflation in the future."

  • Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said he could not “in good conscience” vote for the CHIPs bill when the country is poised to be “bulldozed” by a budget  deal reached Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

  • Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., urged his Republican colleagues not to oppose the CHIPS bill as retaliation for the budget agreement.

  • “It’s going to transform the industrial Midwest,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, pointing to plans by Intel, the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer, to invest $100 billion into new factories in Ohio as a result of the bill’s passage.

From left, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, talk about the bipartisan effort to pass a bill designed to encourage more semiconductor companies to build chip plants in the United States, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. The $280 billion measure, which awaits a House vote, includes federal grants and tax breaks for companies that construct their chip facilities in the U.S. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ORG XMIT: DCSA123

What else they're saying

  • In the Senate, Sanders blasted the CHIPs bill as "corporate welfare," while Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said he was worried the spending would "cause more inflation."

  • In late July, Biden said at a meeting with CEOs and labor leaders, "This bill is not about handing out a blank check to companies."

  • "The bill will require that I personally have to sign off on the biggest grants before they can be dispersed," Biden pledged.

  • Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the U.S. once made 40 percent of chips worldwide but now makes about 12%. "We make essentially none of the leading-edge chips, and we’re utterly dependent upon Taiwan for the leading-edge chips," she said.

Why it matters

Democratic members of Congress in swing states and districts are facing especially tough reelection battles this fall. Americans are pessimistic about the economy and frustrated with Biden's leadership, especially when it comes to his handling of inflation and the economy.

House members are hoping to begin an extended recess this week and senators will soon follow. It's a critical campaign period for lawmakers who are on the ballot in November from both political parties. The semiconductor legislation gives proponents of the bill something to talk about with their constituents.

Biden will also be able to offer up the bill's passage as evidence that his strategy of working with Republicans to pass consequential legislation is working.

Reach Francesca Chambers on Twitter @fran_chambers and Joey Garrison @joeygarrison.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden signs computer chips bipartisan bill into law