Congress’ CHIPS Act Passage Generates Applause
President Biden intends to sign the legislation into law.
Reaction from industry, national security hawks and tech experts to the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America, or CHIPS Act, clearing Congress Thursday was swift and overwhelmingly positive.
The bill, which passed the House one day after senators advanced it, will provide $52 billion in subsidies to U.S. semiconductor manufacturers and billions in additional funding for development and research into related emerging technologies.
In a statement issued immediately after its House passage, President Joe Biden said he looked “forward to signing this bill into law” as quickly as possible, noting it “is exactly what we need to be doing to grow our economy right now.”
CHIPS Act subsidies are expected to help the United States regain leadership in global chip production, which has been usurped by China and other nations that have ramped up investment. Intel, the largest U.S. chipmaker, indicated the bill’s passage could speed up its plans for a $20 billion facility in Ohio.
"I congratulate Congress on voting to approve funding for the CHIPS Act. This is a critical step to support the entire U.S. semiconductor industry and to help ensure continued American leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and R&D,” Intel Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger said in a statement. “Congress has done its part, and now we are going to do ours. I'm excited to put shovels in the ground as Intel moves full speed ahead to start building in Ohio."
The Science Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing more than 50 public and private research universities, also praised the legislation, suggesting it will augment existing federal tech and research investments.
“This bill is an exciting first step, and to fulfill its promise, Congress must use these authorizations to provide robust, consistent and predictable year-over-year increases for federally funded research through annual appropriations, in addition to allocating new money to launch new programs the measure creates,” Science Coalition President Peter DeYoe said in a statement.
Another industry group, the Quantum Industry Coalition, expressed optimism at the bill’s passage. In a statement, the coalition said the legislation—which includes provisions regarding quantum computing—would “strengthen the nation’s ability to innovate and to compete globally.”
“We are pleased that the bill has prioritized quantum information science and technology from its earliest stages, incorporating it as one of the key technology focus areas for the new National Science Foundation Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships,” the coalition said in a statement. “This will help ensure that NSF is working to bring quantum technology out of the lab and into the marketplace.”
The CHIPS Act also includes nearly $40 million to develop a secure computing enclave pilot for universities, $9 million to establish a National Secure Data Service demonstration project and a quantum education pilot program to promote quantum workforce initiatives.
The Data Coalition Initiative, which advocates for policies that make government data more accessible, usable and high-quality, praised the NSDS funding.
“The Data Coalition Initiative is thrilled to see Congress support this type of innovation in our federal data system, and is looking forward to working with the National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics and other stakeholders to ensure that the full benefits of a National Secure Data Service are realized,” Corinna Turbes, Managing Director of the Data Coalition Initiative, said in a statement.
Several national security experts told Nextgov’s sister publication, Defense One, that the CHIPS Act is “an important step,” but noted the legislation alone won’t shore up semiconductor shortages or related national security concerns. The experts explained that other concerns—including whether American investors might inadvertently boost China’s chip-making industry or China flexing muscle in areas where Defense Department chips are produced—must be addressed separately.