Any legislation that manages to navigate Congress successfully is noteworthy these days, but the CHIPS Act, passed by the Senate Wednesday, represents an especially significant inflection point for the United States. We may finally be ready to do what it takes to support critical industries operating on our shores.
The bill which aims to restore American leadership in manufacturing advanced semiconductors, the cutting-edge computer chips in everything from smartphones to airplanes, was backed by a bipartisan vote (64 to 33). It provides semiconductor producers with more than $70 billion to build new chip factories, called foundries, in the US.
The legislation also authorizes a $200 billion increase in funding over the next decade for scientific research to boost technological innovation. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives, which is expected to pass it soon.
Since the Cold War ended, American policymakers have generally promoted globalization, arguing that it doesn’t matter what goods get made where. Other countries have been determined to attract manufacturers and the investment and jobs they brought with them, and we did little to stop them from leaving, so off they went.
The US lost millions of good manufacturing jobs, saw entire industries hollowed out and accumulated trillions of dollars in trade debt as we increased the imports that we bought from the rest of the world much faster than the exports we sold back.