Leahy Praises Passage Of Bipartisan U.S. Innovation And Competition Act And Funding For Domestic Semiconductor Production

(WEDNESDAY, June 9, 2021) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is hailing Senate passage Tuesday night of a bipartisan bill to fund the CHIPS Act, passed as part of last summer’s annual defense policy bill, and to authorize a wide-range of federal investments in research and development in order to make the United States more competitive in the global economy of the 21st Century.

Leahy, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, said:  “In a bipartisan vote, the Senate advanced important legislation to increase our nation’s competitiveness with China.  The United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 is significant legislation, and an example of what process and debate can yield in the United States Senate.  I am especially proud of the Appropriations Committee’s work to provide funding to revitalize our nation’s semiconductor chip industry.”

Totaling nearly $200 billion in authorizations, the U.S Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) is the bipartisan work of senators across eight committees.  Among the bill’s achievements, it includes almost $120 billion authorized over five years for new research designed to foster competitiveness at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Commerce. The bill prioritizes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) training and education, and includes strong support for the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) that helps small states make big contributions in research and development.

Of the authorizations Leahy said:  “It is now critical that the White House join with Congress on bipartisan and bicameral negotiations on toplines for spending.  Only with such an agreement can the Appropriations Committee work to actually provide the resources to fulfill the promise of the authorizations in this bill.”  

The cornerstone of the bill is over $54 billion in emergency appropriations developed by the Appropriations Committee, chaired by Leahy, to fund the CHIPS Act, passed last summer.  The bulk of the funding will allow the Department of Commerce to provide grants to semiconductor chip production facilities that agree to improve or construct new facilities in order to on-shore critical chip-making capability and develop the next generation of technology.

The bill also establishes a new Directorate of Technology and Innovation at the NSF.  This new Federal role will oversee the funding of Federal research and development projects in key focus areas in order to strengthen the global leadership of the United States in innovation.  The bill also creates a Regional Technology Hub Program at the Commerce Department to carry out activities related to workforce development, business and entrepreneurship development, technology maturation, and technology development.  There will be at least three hubs per Economic Development Administration region.  The hub provision includes geographic distribution requirements to reduce the geographic concentration of research and development, education and workforce development opportunities. 

Read Leahy’s Floor statement on the USICA HERE.

Read Leahy’s Floor statement specifically on CHIPS funding HERE.

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