Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
Senator Ron Johnson is being criticized for voting against the bipartisan “CHIPS and Science” Act, a manufacturing and research bill recently passed by both the House and Senate. The bill cleared the Senate on a 64-33 vote and sets aside $52 billion to bring high tech computer chip manufacturing back to the United States, following the lead of South Korea, Japan, and the European Union. Another $200 billion is set to fund scientific research into areas like artificial intelligence, robotics and quantum computing. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers, a Wisconsin-based trade association, said that the bill “stands to benefit Wisconsin and its 187,000 equipment manufacturing jobs.”
In a statement after the vote, Senator Johnson claimed that the bill would “fan the flames of inflation.” However, industry leaders at Intel argue that the current chip manufacturing shortage is a main driver of inflation. Biden’s U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters that rising car prices account for nearly a third of inflation, an increase driven by chip shortages. Sen. Johnson did not explain why he believed that funding to solve a primary cause of inflation would actually increase inflation.
Supporters of the bill have also pointed out how it would increase national security and curtail China’s supply chain dominance. The United States military alone requires nearly 2 billion computer chips a year for weapons and technology. Currently, the United States relies on importing semiconductor chips from other countries, particularly Taiwan. Any disruption in the foreign chip supply would cause serious problems for the United States, something that drove some lawmakers to support the bill. President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law on Tuesday, August 9th.