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Ohio leaders say the future of U.S. computer chip manufacturing depends on Congress

 Keyvan Esfarjani, senior vice president and general manager of Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Operations at Intel Corporation, speaks to the media at ean event in Newark, Ohio, announcing a massive computer chip plant that is to be built in the area northeast of Columbus. He is surrounded by state officials.
Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Keyvan Esfarjani, senior vice president and general manager of Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Operations at Intel Corporation, speaks to the media at ean event in Newark, Ohio, announcing a massive computer chip plant that is to be built in the area northeast of Columbus. He is surrounded by state officials.

A new spending bill in Congress could send a message to the world that the U.S. is ready to compete for computer chip manufacturing jobs, according to some of Ohio’s top leaders.

Ohio's U.S. Senators have supported a new $52 billion measure to allow grants and tax credits for semiconductor manufacturing in the country.

The money would boost development for companies like Intel, which is already constructing a $20 billion plant in central Ohio.

But there has been a delay in Congress to pass this legislation in the past, leading to Intel canceling its plans for a ceremonial groundbreaking. Although, Intel is still continuing actual construction.

President Joe Biden is asking Congress to move quickly to send to him a bipartisan bill designed to boost the computer chips industry and high-tech research in the United States.

Biden calls semiconductors “the building blocks for the modern economy."

The Senate is expected to take a critical vote to advance the legislation on Tuesday, placing it on a glidepath to final passage later this week. If the bill goes to Biden, his administration will score a victory on legislation it said is necessary to protect national security and help the U.S. better compete with China.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said that project will happen no matter what, but the creation of future projects depends on Congress’ ability to continue supporting the industry.

“They will invest even more in Ohio than they plan to. But we've got to keep our eye on the ball. And that means passing this bill and then continuing to work with companies and suppliers to get them to Ohio,” Brown said.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, also supported the legislation. He said on the Senate floor that there is an “urgency to get this done because it's critical to the decisions that employers are making right now to create and bring semiconductor manufacturing, factories, and jobs to America or to some other country.”

The U.S. Senate passed a $250 billion plan that included $52 billion for chip manufacturing last year. The U.S. House then passed its own spending plan with chip manufacturing funds included in a $400 billion proposal.

Portman said the bill from U.S. House Democrats included “unrelated items that no Republican could support.” Meanwhile, Brown has accused Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of playing politics with the issue.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, a Republican, played a role behind-the-scenes to bring Intel’s project to Ohio.

As Husted explained, Intel is carrying out the first of what could be five phases in chip production in Ohio. He said the possibility of further production in Ohio and the ability for the U.S. to have locally-sourced computer chips is important for national and economic security.

“Some things are bigger than partisanship. This is about America's economic and national security. That is no joke. We can't depend on the most important manufactured product being made in countries that might not be friends of America,” said Husted.

Husted said he is hopeful that the bill to support chip manufacturing will pass Congress and be signed by President Joe Biden by August.
Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.