WASHINGTON D.C.: As part of efforts to encourage U.S. domestic industries to become more competitive with China, the U.S. Senate voted 64-32 this week to advance legislation aimed at supporting the manufacturing of semiconductors.
The legislation will provide an investment tax credit for chip plants worth some $24 billion, as well as $52 billion in government subsidies for U.S. semiconductor production.
After the Senate votes on final passage, the U.S. House could follow up later this week.
The bill has been described by President Joe Biden and others as a national security issue, stressing that its passing is essential to ensure U.S. chip production, which are crucial to a wide range of consumer goods and military equipment, including automobiles, consumer electronics, medical equipment and high-tech weapons.
The Senate vote was described as "a symbol of the strong bipartisan coalition working to build more chips in America. These chips keep our economy strong and our country safe," noted Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
The bill aims to ease a persistent shortage, that has dented production in various industries, with auto production being especially hit hard.
Before the vote, Senate Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer said, "The pandemic made clear, with unforgiving clarity, how America's chip shortage was creating a crisis."
According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, the vote is a "vital step toward enactment of legislation that will strengthen American chip production and innovation, economic growth and job creation, and national security."
As part of the administration's push for the semiconductor legislation, this week Biden met virtually with the chief executives of Lockheed Martin Corp, Medtronic PLC and Cummins, as well as with labor leaders.