Senate postpones crucial vote on bill to fund US-made computer chips due to thunderstorms

A technologist inspects a computer chip.

Cepha Ozell | Getty Images

Severe weather will delay the Senate’s push to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing and boost US competition with China, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.Y., said Monday.

The bill was expected to clear a significant procedural hurdle in the Senate on Monday evening, with the final vote due on Tuesday or Wednesday.

But Schumer announced on the Senate floor Monday evening that he would postpone the vote until Tuesday morning. He cited “several severe thunderstorms over the East Coast” which have “disrupted the travel plans of a significant number of senators.”

The so-called clotter vote to break the legislative deadlock is now expected at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

“I’m hopeful that we can stay on track to end this law as quickly as possible,” Schumer said.

The package, known as “Chips-Plus,” includes about $52 billion in funding for U.S. companies that make computer chips and a provision that provides tax credits for investments in chip manufacturing. It also provides funding to promote the innovation and development of other US technologies.

If it is passed by the Senate as expected, the House will consider the law. Supporters of the bill hope Congress will pass it and send it for President Joe Biden’s signature before the August recess that begins in two weeks.

Those advocates say the law is vital to American economic and national security interests in a world dependent on technological advancement. They also argue that the bill could help counter the effects of the COVID-induced global chip shortage, and put the US on a more competitive level with China, which has invested heavily in its chip-making capabilities. Is.

“America invented the semiconductor. It’s time to bring it home,” Biden said during a meeting at the White House on Monday afternoon. The President, who tested positive for Covid last week, attended the meeting virtually.

The legislation “is going to advance our nation’s competitiveness and our technological edge,” Biden said, urging Congress to “pass this bill as quickly as possible.”

Chips-plus is a shortened version of the comprehensive legislation that had been in place for a long time in the House and Senate. The big measure came under threat from the Republican leadership earlier this month.

The slimmer bill passed a preliminary procedural resolution last week in a bipartisan 64-34 vote. Earlier on Monday the cloture vote is expected to be approved.

Votes come in the form of censors. Joe Manchin, DWV, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, both announced separately Monday that he tested positive for covid, Both senators said they would work remotely and follow CDC guidelines.

His diagnosis isn’t expected to derail the Senate’s efforts to pass the chips-plus, but could hamper Democrats’ other legislative goals ahead of the August recess.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration wants Congress to act now.

In Monday’s meeting with Biden, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned of the enormous national security risks “we are facing right now, today,” due to supply-chain vulnerabilities made worse by the pandemic.

“The US’s continued reliance on foreign semiconductor producers is “flat-out alarming, and disruptions to our chip supplies will be catastrophic,” Sullivan said.

Executives at Lockheed Martin, jet-engine maker Cummins and medical-device maker Medtronic echoed those national-security arguments during the meeting.

“There’s no doubt that we need a comprehensive approach to compete and take on China’s unfair trade practices,” Chris Shelton of the Communications Workers, America’s leading labor union, told Biden.