Biden Signs CHIPS-Plus Act Into Law, Aims To Boost Semiconductor Production

Tuesday, August 2nd 2022, 5:40 pm


President Biden signed into law Tuesday the $280 billion CHIPS-Plus Act, legislation intended to significantly boost domestic semiconductor production, plus authorize scientific research for the next ten years. 

As Ranking Member of the House Science Committee, Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK3) played a significant roll in developing, advancing, and ultimately getting the legislation to the president's desk, despite, in the end, actually voting against it. For that, Rep. Lucas blames internal politics. 

"So regrettably -- and it's more regrettably than you can possibly imagine," Lucas said during a speech on the House floor last Thursday, "I will not be casting my vote for the CHIPS and Science Act today." 

In a Zoom interview Monday, Lucas put it like this: "I went to Rules Committee arguing for passage of the bill the night before; I went to the floor prepared to vote for it, and the world turned upside down around me." 

Indeed, the Republicans, and even most Democrats, had been caught off guard by the announcement Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), just hours after the Senate had passed CHIPS with strong bipartisan support, that he'd reached an agreement with West Virginia moderate Joe Manchin on a long sought-after climate, health care, and tax policy package. Schumer said he hoped to pass the bill through the process of reconciliation where, as along as all 50 Democrats were board, no GOP support would be needed. 

"There appears to have been a ladies and gentleman‘s agreement that if CHIPS moved, reconciliation would not move," Lucas said Monday. "That set off alarm bells in both the Senate and in the United States House amongst Republicans, and literally that process is what compelled me to debate against the bill and vote no." 

Democrats insist there was no such agreement, that such a linkage was fabricated by Republicans. 

Nevertheless, House Republican leadership now urged no votes on the CHIPS bill, stating that Democrats had deceitfully tied it to a reconciliation bill that would raise taxes on businesses and Americans across all income levels, contrary to Democrats' claims. 

Lucas's seniority on the Science Committee meant he would be managing the Republican floor debate. He says legislating means sometimes having to play 'the long game' and understanding, in this particular instance, that just getting the bill passed wasn't enough. 

"I have to be able to, in the next session of Congress, advocate to the appropriators in both the House and the Senate and the leadership that the monies that are authorized actually be spent," Lucas explained. “I have to be able to make sure that the good provisions are protected and be in a position to do oversight on all of the money in the CHIPS bill. That will be much simpler as chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee and sometimes we all have to pull the rope as a part of the team." 

Lucas 'pulled the rope', explaining on the floor why he could no longer support the bill. 

"I remain incredibly proud of the good work we’ve done to strategically strengthen American research and development, and yet I cannot ignore the fact that the immense tax hikes and irresponsible spending in the expanded reconciliation package change the calculus," Lucas said. "This is one of those occasions that as a statesman and responsible member of Congress I have to put aside my own pride in the Science Committee's work and cast a vote that represents the best interest of Americans and particularly the good people of the third district of Oklahoma." 

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4) and 23 other Republicans voted for the bill and it passed relatively easily. 

Lucas says it's unfortunate that politics prevented him from supporting legislation that means so much to him and, he believes, is so important for the future of the country. And so he seems glad that, in fact, it did pass. 

"Passing the CHIPS-Plus Act not only meets the needs -- the immediate needs -- for the next four or five years," said Rep. Lucas, "but those research sections will potentially carry us for decades." 


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