The U.S. House of Representatives passed sweeping legislation on Thursday to subsidize the domestic semiconductor industry as it competes with Chinese and other foreign manufacturers, sending the bill to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law.
The final vote was 243 to 187, with one Democrat — Representative Sara Jacobs — voting present. Twenty-four Republicans joined 218 Democrats in backing the measure.
The Senate passed the "Chips and Science" act with bipartisan support on Wednesday, after more than a year of effort. A rare major foray into U.S. industrial policy, the bill provides about $52 billion in government subsidies for U.S. semiconductor production and an investment tax credit for chip plants estimated to be worth $24 billion.
The legislation would also authorize $200 billion over 10 years to boost U.S. scientific research to better compete with China. Congress would still need to pass separate appropriations legislation to fund those investments.
Many lawmakers said they normally would not support hefty subsidies for private businesses but noted that China and the European Union have been awarding billions in incentives to their chip companies.
They also cited national security risks and huge global supply chain problems that have hampered production of products from cars to weapons to video games.
Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was one of the "yes" votes from his party. "We need to manufacture (chips) in this country, and not let it go offshore," he told reporters before the vote.
"This is vitally important to our national security," McCaul said.
House members cheered after the bill passed. The measure had been in the works for more than a year, with the Senate passing a bill in June 2021 with strong bipartisan support, only to have it stall for months in the House.
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