Drivers around North America, and the world, can breathe a sigh of relief as the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 has passed the Senate and is headed for the president’s desk. After a long journey, and overcoming a last-minute political scrum from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the votes totaled 243-187 in favor of the bill.
How many of you have trucks parked, awaiting chips and circuits?
Being held hostage by a burned-out computer chip the size of a penny is a pain shared by many, including yours truly. Two weeks in a hotel waiting on a DEF exhaust sensor was my true-life encounter with the parts shortage plaguing truck drivers and business owners.
The bill earmarks $39 billion for semiconductor manufacturing, $11 billion to advance semiconductor manufacturing research and workforce training, and a $2 billion fund to more quickly translate laboratory advances into military and “other applications.”
Many lawmakers – soon to be on the campaign trail – will be preaching hometown benefits from the bill’s science component, which authorized almost $170 billion for technological research and development, across several federal agencies, during the next five years.
The science component has a lot of interesting earmarks
The technology R&D investments include artificial intelligence, quantum computing, wireless communications and precision agriculture. The National Science Foundation (NSF) would receive a $20 billion directorate focused on accelerating the development of technologies critical to U.S. security. The NSF was also provided with an increase to $61 billion for its core activities – funding research at universities and institutes.
The Energy Department’s Office of Science received a five-year authorization that would increase its funding to nearly $50 billion to launch programs focused on clean energy, nuclear physics and high-intensity lasers. The bill also assigned new policies to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), instructing the agency to prioritize research required to send American astronauts to Mars. It also authorizes space programs such as Artemis Moon, which could put the first woman and person of color on the moon.