Washington Watch: Senate advances $52 billion chips bill in 64-32 vote, House could give its OK by end of week

As a bipartisan bill that aims to support the U.S. semiconductor industry continues to clear key procedural hurdles, analysts are predicting the measure could end up scoring full approval from Congress in a matter of days.

Analysts at Beacon Policy Advisors said in a recent note that “all indications” point to the Senate passing the legislation this week.

“This will set the House for a vote before it is scheduled to leave for its August recess on July 29th and to then send the bill to President Biden for his signature,” they wrote.

A procedural vote in the Senate took place Tuesday, with 64 senators in support and 32 opposing, and a final vote in the 50-50 chamber looks likely on Wednesday. The procedural vote had been slated for Monday, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delayed the action, citing severe thunderstorms on the East Coast that “disrupted the travel plans of a significant number of Senators.”

There is an 85% probability that the bill will be passed by the Senate, then score the House’s OK and get signed into law by President Joe Biden, said Benjamin Salisbury, director of research at Height Capital Markets, in a note on Tuesday morning. He has raised his odds from 80% on Monday and 75% last week.

The semiconductor bill, which provides about $52 billion to subsidize domestic production of microchips

is being called the CHIPS-Plus Act or the Chips for America Act, and the funding previously was in other legislation that was under consideration — the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and the COMPETES Act.

A procedural vote also occurred in the Senate last week, with 64 senators supporting the legislation. Schumer, the New York Democrat, then added funding for scientific research to the measure, because that vote indicated there was enough Republican support for additional provisions.

Related: Three possible outcomes for stalled tech-funding bill, according to its co-author

Boosting domestic production of chips has been described by the Biden White House and lawmakers from both parties as a critical national-security need.

Biden called for passage of the chips bill during a virtual event on Monday afternoon that featured other administration officials, leaders from labor unions and three company CEOs — Tom Linebarger from Cummins
Jim Taiclet from Lockheed Martin

and Geoff Martha from Medtronic

“We’re here today to talk about the importance of passing the Chips for America Act to strengthen our national and economic security. Later today, the Senate’s going to hold a key vote to advance this critical legislation, God willing,” said the president, who is isolating after getting COVID-19.

Lockheed’s Taiclet mentioned Russia’s moves with natural gas following its invasion of Ukraine, as he talked up the chips bill.

“Just like the Russians did with natural gas recently in Europe, if China can constrain its own production and distribution of chips to us — or they pressure or otherwise inhibit Taiwan from doing so — you have a global market that’s going to be upset. It’ll go beyond the defense industry,” the CEO said. “From a national security perspective, I think this is really high priority.”

See: Nancy Pelosi’s husband buys millions of dollars’ worth of Nvidia stock ahead of vote on chip-manufacturing bill

Also: Biden touts South Korean company’s $22 billion investment in U.S. manufacturing: ‘America is back to working with our allies’

This is an updated version of a report that was first published on July 20, 2022.

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