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July 28, 2022

What the CHIPS Act means for Maryland

Credit: WMAR-2 News, Staff

The House of Representatives, on Thursday afternoon, passed the CHIPS Act, a bill that includes billions of dollars in funding for both the semiconductor industry and science and technology research across the country.

In all, the bill puts together $280 billion in funding, in the hopes of bringing the production of computer chips, to the United States.

We sat down with Representative David Trone, from Maryland’s Sixth District, about the bill, which is now headed for President Joe Biden’s desk where he’s expected to sign it.

Trone called the bill “fantastic.”

“It’s really an example of long term thinking and it’s investing in America,” he said, adding that the bill could create 100,000 jobs across the country.

If successful in bringing computer chip production back to the US, it could reduce our reliance on importation from Asian countries of Taiwan and South Korea.

This could help the United States in the future, if we were to face the same kinds of supply chain shortages seen across industries right now.

“Next time.. something happens, we have the production right here in the United States,” said Trone. “Like right now, you can’t buy a car, because they don’t have any chips.”

And while the semiconductor plants are likely to give an economic boost to the states and cities where they’ll be located, that’s not in the plan for Maryland.

Trone mentioned Ohio, Arizona and New Mexico, as locations for new big plants.

“I don’t think [Maryland’s] gonna get a big plant,” he said, “But there’ll be all kinds of other ancillary businesses that feed into the chip plants.”

He added that in addition to the semiconductor part of the bill, there’s also the investment into science and technology, and Maryland will see some of that money.

“They reauthorize NIST, the National Institute of Science and Techonology in Montgomery County.. and they got $200 million authorized to upgrade older facilities,” said Trone. “It [also] reauthorizes NASA.”

The majority of the Maryland Congressional delegation did vote in favor of the CHIPS Act, including Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen on July 27th in the Senate.

However, the lone Republican in the delegation, Representative Andy Harris in the First Congressional District, voted against the bill, with a majority of his party members.

We reached out to his office for a statement on his decision, but as of publication of this article, we had not heard back.

The final tally in the House was 243-187, with only 24 Republicans voting in favor of the legislation.

The Senate also passed the bill with bipartisan support, 64-33, with mainly Republicans voting against. Independent Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, also voted against the bill.

Trone disagrees with Sanders and with the Republicans who are opposed to the bill.

“Republicans need to put people over politics,” he said. “They claim to [be] the party of business, they claim to [be] the party of jobs and they’re neither. I mean, this should all be about people. 100,000 jobs, this should be about having the safety of having these chips made in America… you’d think Republicans would support Made in America, but they chose to put politics over people.”

Representative Trone faces what’s likely to be the most competitive general election challenge in the Maryland Congressional races. He faces Republican Neil Parrott in November’s election.