Biden signs $280 billion CHIPS to boost US over China

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed a $280 billion bipartisan bill Tuesday to boost domestic high-tech manufacturing as part of his administration’s drive to increase U.S. competitiveness against China.

Flanked by numerous lawmakers, union officials, local politicians and business leaders, Biden praised the legislation, a core part of his economic agenda that will boost investment in the U.S. semiconductor industry in an effort to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign supply chains for critical, cutting-edge goods.

“The future of the chip industry will be made in America,” Biden said at a blistering Rose Garden ceremony on Tuesday, referring to the tiny devices that power everything from smartphones to computers to cars. The legislation earmarks $52 billion specifically to bolster the US computer chip sector.

The bill has been in the works for more than a year, but was finally passed by both Houses of Congress late last month by significant bipartisan margins. The Senate approved it 64-33, with 17 GOP senators backing it, while the House quickly followed suit with a 243-187 vote, including 24 House Republicans in favour, though party leaders began urging their ranks to vote against after the Democrats had advanced a separate sweeping bill targeting climate and health care.

The White House tried to begin selling the immediate effects of the semiconductor measure on Tuesday, noting that Micron, a leading U.S. chip maker, will announce a $40 billion plan to boost domestic production of memory chips, while Qualcomm and GlobalFoundries will unveil a $4.2 billion expansion of an upstate chip factory in New York.

The government has also repeatedly portrayed this legislation as a critical part of countering the influence of an emerging China and ensuring that the US can maintain a competitive advantage over Beijing, particularly in semiconductor manufacturing. Government officials held multiple briefings for lawmakers to outline the national security implications of this bill, and Biden noted in his remarks Tuesday that the Chinese government had lobbied US companies against the legislation.

“The CHIPS and Science Act is going to inspire a whole new generation of Americans to answer that question: Now what?” Biden said this during the signing ceremony on Tuesday. “In decades, people will look back on this week and everything we’ve encountered and everything we’ve been through, that we met at this turning point in history.”

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Tuesday’s ceremony is one of several public events Biden has planned since he recovered from COVID-19, including a visit to flood-ravaged Kentucky on Monday and another signing event on Wednesday for legislation to support veterans suffering from toxic fire pits. But Biden seemed to be experiencing some residual symptoms, coughing heavily several times during his comments and at one point apologizing for it.

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