President Biden in his March 1 State of the Union pleaded with members of Congress to complete work on reconciling two bills that would fund the CHIPS Act to support domestic semiconductor manufacturing, provide funding to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a new technology directorate, and direct billions of new money to improve supply chain resiliency.

The two bills – the America COMPETES Act in the House and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) measure in the Senate – have already been approved by the respective chambers, but need to be joined through a House-Senate conference committee.  There has been little visible evidence of that conference process since the House passed the COMPETES Act in early February.

In his March 1 address to Congress, President Biden focused mainly on the $52 billion CHIPS Act funding that is contained in both bills. The support that measure would provide to expand the atrophied U.S. semiconductor sector is popular with both major political parties, and central to President Biden’s aims to invest more in U.S. research and development to counter competition from China and elsewhere.

“To compete for the jobs of the future, we also need to level the playing field with China and other competitors,” President Biden said. “That’s why it’s so important to pass the bipartisan Innovation Act sitting in Congress that will make record investments in emerging technologies and American manufacturing,” he continued, referring to the COMPETES and USICA legislation.

President Biden noted plans by Intel Corp. to invest $20 billion in a new semiconductor operation in Ohio, and said the company’s chief executive officer wants to increase that investment to as much as $100 billion.

“That would be the biggest investment in manufacturing in American history,” President Biden told members of Congress.

“And all they’re waiting for is for you to pass this bill,” he said. “So, let’s not wait any longer. Send it to my desk, I’ll sign it, and we will really take off in a big way.”

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