WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – The semiconductor industry is about to get a multi-billion dollar boost. Legislation to invest in semiconductors passed the Senate on Wednesday with bipartisan support and it’s expected to pass the House soon.
From cars to phones to high-tech weapons, semiconductor chips power almost every electronic device. That’s why Congress wants to supercharge America’s ability to make them.
It’s an area where Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., says the country has fallen behind.
“This legislation is important in terms of jobs, national security, maintaining American innovation,” Warner said.
The Senate passed a bill Wednesday that provides $52 billion in incentives to semiconductor companies and gives them tax breaks to build their plants in the U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., believes that will have long-term impacts.
“It won’t just be this generation, future generations will handsomely benefit,” Young said.
The bill got support from both parties, with 64 senators voting for it and 33 against it. There was, however, pushback from some lawmakers.
Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont called it a corporate giveaway.
“Blank check for the highly profitable microchip industry, with no protections at all for the American taxpayer,” Sanders said.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., criticized the bill for not having enough guardrails in place for how and where the companies spend the money.
“There is absolutely no accountability. It doesn’t make any sense,” Scott said.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo says that’s wrong and the funding does come with strings attached for manufacturers.
“We’re going to hold them to account for every penny and make sure the money is being used the way it should be,” Raimondo said.
Raimondo says Intel, Samsung and others are all waiting on Congress.
“We are really out of time. This has to happen right now, this week,” Raimondo said. “Get it to the president’s desk.”
She warns if that doesn’t happen soon, the companies will take their money and invest it in other countries.
The House is expected to pass the bill later this week.