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Biden signs CHIPS and Science Act to boost US-made national security technologies

Written by Brandi Vincent

President Biden signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act on Tuesday, authorizing new policies and billions of dollars in funding to advance research and development and help strengthen America’s technology manufacturing and supply chains.

Semiconductors, or chips, help power weapon systems, computers, telephones, appliances, automobiles, and many other modern technologies. Although they were first invented in America, the country now only produces around 10% of the world’s chip supply – and none of the more sophisticated variants. The CHIPS and Science Act marks the US government’s ambitious plan to change that.

Negotiated through lengthy legislative work, the provisions of this more than 1,000-page legislation introduce new requirements for several federal agencies to help dramatically boost the production of U.S.-made semiconductors and, in ultimately accelerating innovation in nanotechnology, quantum computing, artificial intelligence and other emerging capabilities. related to national security.

“Earlier this year, I went to [a Lockheed Martin factory] in Alabama where they manufacture the Javelin missiles that we supply to Ukraine to defend against Putin’s unprovoked war. It’s clear that we need these semiconductors not only for these Javelins, but also for the weapon systems of the future that will be even more reliant on advanced chips. Unfortunately, we’re producing 0% of these advanced chips, and China is trying to get ahead of us in making them,” Biden said on the White House South Lawn during a bill signing ceremony.

“It’s no wonder the Chinese Communist Party actively lobbied American companies against this bill. The United States must lead the world in producing these advanced chips. This law will do just that,” he added.

The legislation provides approximately $52.7 billion to explicitly stimulate research, development, manufacturing, and workforce development in the United States. Of that total, $39 billion is included for manufacturing incentives and $13.2 billion is included for R&D and workforce development, according to the White House.

A 25% investment tax credit for capital expenditures related to the manufacture of semiconductors and related equipment is also a requirement of the new law.

“To be clear, this law does not hand out blank checks to businesses. Today, I am directing my administration to laser focus on safeguards to protect taxpayers’ money,” Biden said.

Beyond its many financial incentives and requirements for semiconductors, the bill also aims to stimulate other science and technology activities, including several provisions that will directly impact the Department of Defense.

For example, the final version of the bill directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct and support R&D and program development — and to assess potential risks to national and economic security — in engineering biology and in related data and information sciences. The Pentagon is also required by law to support the Commerce Department and other agencies in accelerating innovation to advance the nation’s unmanned maritime systems.

Pentagon leaders expressed strong support for the bill and urged lawmakers to pass it.

“Investments made through the CHIPS Act are critical to our national security and will directly support America’s continued technological and military advantage,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said recently.

In addition, the recently signed law also establishes a directorate of technology, innovation and partnerships at the National Science Foundation to focus on emerging and advanced capabilities. There are also a number of new mandates for other agencies, including NASA, the Departments of Energy and Commerce, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is tasked with establishing a research agenda. on AI-based defense.

Throughout his tenure as president, Biden has underscored his goals of increasing U.S. investment in science and research from less than 1% of GDP to nearly 2%, as it has been for decades. .

“We used to rank No. 1 in the world in research and development. Now we rank 9th. China was in 8th place a few decades ago. Now they are No. 2 and other countries are rapidly approaching. This law takes us forward once again. It authorizes funding to increase our research and development funding closer to 1% of GDP — the fastest single-year percentage increase in 70 years — and it’s going to make a difference,” Biden said.

“This increase in research and development funding will secure the United States global leadership in the industries of the future, from quantum computing and artificial intelligence to advanced biotechnology – the kinds of investments that will deliver vaccines. against cancer, the cure for HIV and inventing the next big thing that hasn’t even been imagined yet,” he added.