Pelosi backs chips bill, says House could vote on measure next week

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House plans to vote as early as next week on a slimmed-down version of legislation to provide tens of billions of dollars in subsidies and tax credits for the semiconductor industry, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

On Tuesday, the Senate backed by 64 to 34 a procedural measure to set the stage for potential votes to pass the legislation in the Senate as soon as this week.

The bill “is a major victory for American families and the American economy,” Pelosi said in a letter to lawmakers, calling it “a bold, bipartisan package that will lower costs for families here at home while reigniting American competitiveness on the world stage.”

The bill aims to ease a shortage that has disrupted production in industries from automobiles to electronics and high-tech weapons. It is part of a broad effort across the government to push back against an ascendant China and ease supply-chain problems by decreasing U.S. companies’ reliance on foreign-made semiconductors.

“As the Senate undergoes its legislative process, we are optimistic that the House will be able to take this bill up as early as next week,” Pelosi wrote.

The final text was not released but Senate aides said the measure includes about $54 billion in subsidies for U.S. semiconductor companies, as well as a new, four-year 25% tax credit to encourage companies to build U.S. semiconductor plants. The tax credit is estimated to be worth about $24 billion. There are other provisions including a $1 billion grant program for “persistently distressed communities.”

President Joe Biden’s administration urged Congress to pass a semiconductor bill before lawmakers leave Washington for their August recess, saying it would create and preserve U.S. jobs and bolster national security.

The current bill is a pared-down version of stalled rival measures, even though efforts to counter China are policies generally backed by both Republicans and Biden’s Democrats, who narrowly control Congress.

The Senate approved a bipartisan $250 billion bill boosting spending on technology research and development in June 2021, while the House passed its own version in February.

Republican Senator Rick Scott criticized the bill, saying taxpayers should get a return on their investment – rather than giving grants that do not have to be repaid. “The taxpayer doesn’t get anything here,” Scott told Reuters.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

tagreuters.com2022binary_LYNXMPEI6J0SM-VIEWIMAGE