Foundation fund

The chip finance bill staggers to the finish line

A Senate vote on Tuesday set up the latest version of congressional efforts to fund domestic chip manufacturing for final approval Wednesday morning and likely, but not certain, passage through the House by the weekend.

Yes, but: Congress has been deadlocked on this issue for over a year now, and has only reached this point after intense lobbying and prioritizing the chip bill over many other proposals. , including virtually any that involve the world of technology.

The big picture: Time was, passing bills that spend money to support domestic manufacturing was an easy lift for Congress. Today, it takes a year of Herculean effort.

  • Meanwhile, a legion of other tech-related proposals and bills are essentially stalled at a time when Congress is about to go on vacation. When lawmakers return, we will be in midterm election season — when Congress has rarely done much, even before it was so bitterly divided.

Our thought bubble: At this rate, we can expect each two-year session of Congress to advance at most one piece of technology-related legislation. Choose wisely!

Here’s what’s inside the Senate version of the bill:

  • $52.7 billion for chip manufacturing, research and production, including $2 billion for the production of legacy chips – those essential to the auto industry and the military.
  • a 25% tax credit for investments in semiconductor manufacturing, worth about $24 billion.
  • $1.5 billion for the development of open-architecture, software-based wireless technologies, known as ORAN, that aim to reduce reliance on foreign telecommunications equipment.

The bill also allows about $200 billion for scientific research, but does not actually appropriate the funds, so spending will require further action by Congress. Permissions include:

  • $81 billion for the National Science Foundation, to be used in part for a Technology, Innovation and Partnerships Directorate to expand the NSF to also fund applied research and commercialization efforts.
  • The NSF clearance also aims to strengthen the STEM workforce, including establishing an artificial intelligence scholarship program.
  • Separately, the bill authorizes $50 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

And after: If the Senate passes the bill, it is the turn of the House, which must leave for its August recess after Friday.