President Biden delivered a fresh pitch on Jan. 21 for Congress to take up and pass the Senate-approved United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) bill.

The bill features $52 billion for the creation of a National Science Foundation Directorate of Technology and Innovation, and another $52 billion to implement the CHIPS Act to boost domestic semiconductor production.

Consideration of USICA and a closely related House bill – the National Science Foundation for the Future Act – has been hung up since late last year after Democratic leaders in the House and Senate said they would form a conference committee to iron out differences between the two measures.

Speaking at the White House on Jan. 21 about Intel Corp.’s plans to build a new $20 billion semiconductor-making operation in Ohio, President Biden urged quick congressional action on USICA to put more Federal funding behind efforts to build up the U.S. semiconductor sector.

“As historic as today’s announcement is … this is just the beginning,” President Biden said.

“Right now, there’s a bill in front of the United States Congress … [the] U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which includes several of the ideas that I proposed last year that would accelerate the progress in a big way,” he said.

“The bill will authorize nearly $90 billion for research and development, manufacturing, and supply chains … including empowering the National Science Foundation to bring together local communities, universities, community colleges, private companies, and more – and more partnerships like this,” he said.

“This includes $52 billion incentive for more companies to build their manufacturing facilities here in the United States of America,” President Biden said. “I want other cities and states to be able to make announcements like the one being made here today, and that’s why I want to see Congress pass this bill right away and get it to my desk.”

Earlier this month, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, said one of her primary objectives for the new year is to pass USICA. “The primary thing we’re going to try to do [soon] when we return is to pass USICA,” she said. “We want to see innovation happen in other places. This bill is about geographic diversity.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.