Senate approves CHIPS Act, as funding windfall inches closer

The U.S. Senate officially approved the $52 billion CHIPS Act on Wednesday by a vote of 64-33, a move that was telegraphed by a preliminary 64-33 vote last week, and which puts the ball in the court of the U.S. House of Representatives, which reportedly could pass the bill before the weekend.

The CHIPS Act would then go to the desk of President Joe Biden to sign it into law. In comments posted to Twitter just after the Senate’s approval, the President sounded like he would waste no time doing exactly that, claiming that infusing the semiconductor manufacturing sector with the resulting funds will help build new factories, create thousand of jobs, and “bring down the price of everything from automobiles to everything across the board… This is good news for America.

The Semiconductor Industry Association was equally effusive, saying in its official statement that the funds resulting from the Act will help rectify a situation that finds U.S. sites accounting for only about 12% of the world’s chip manufacturing capacity today.

“Senate passage of the CHIPS Act marks decisive progress toward strengthening America’s economy, national security, and leadership in the key technologies of today and tomorrow,” the statement read. “We greatly appreciate the bill’s Senate champions for advancing it, commend today’s strong bipartisan vote, and urge the House of Representatives to swiftly follow suit and send the CHIPS Act to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. The stakes are high, and the time to act is now.”

Former U.S. Ambassador Karen Kornbluh, who is now director of the German Marshall Fund’s Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative, also voiced her support, saying, “The Senate's passage of the CHIPS+ bill is welcome bipartisan progress on one of the most critical technology issues the U.S. faces. This kind of government investment—$54 billion for domestic chip production, $81 billion for the National Science Foundation, and tax credits to help build fab facilities—can help check the rising tide of economic pessimism that feeds nativism and polarization. Big bets like this bill are exactly what's needed to jumpstart the optimism that motivated previous generations to invest in the future and each other.” 

TechNet, the self-described bipartisan network of technology executives, also weighed in, stating, “Last week, we urged the Senate to not only increase the domestic production of semiconductors but to also invest in regional technology hubs across the country and enhance STEM education and high-tech workforce training programs in the CHIPS Act of 2022… We applaud the Senate for working together in a bipartisan manner to include these provisions in the final bill. This bold action is needed to usher in a new era of exploration and invention in America to win the 21st century… We will continue to work with Congress to ensure swift passage of the bill this week so it can be signed into law by President Biden as soon as possible.”