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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Federal computer chip bill seen as critical for Intel project in Ohio closer to passage

 A truck drives down a closed road near the site of the planned Intel semiconductor chip manufacturing facility in Licking County in June 2022. [Daniel Konik / Statehouse News Bureau]
A truck drives down a closed road near the site of the planned Intel semiconductor chip manufacturing facility in Licking County in June 2022.

A $52 billion bipartisan bill that would incentivize production of semiconductor chips on American soil a has cleared a key Senate vote, setting it up for final passage in the chamber in the coming days. The so-called cloture vote to break the legislative filibuster has cleared the U.S. Senate. And a final vote on the legislation itself could be coming soon, possibly by the end of this week.

Passage of the bill is critical to Ohio because the state stands to benefit from a massive planned $20 billion investment by Intel. The company has secured land in Central Ohio to build at least two semiconductor fabrication plants or "fabs" on 1,000 acres. The company will research, develop, and manufacture its most cutting-edge computer chips. It's expected to employ at least 3,000 people. Construction will begin this year, with around 7,000 jobs expected from that. The complex is expected to be in operation by 2025. This factory is hailed as the largest private-sector investment in Ohio history.

The federal legislation, known as the CHIPS Act, has been pared down to get passage by the U.S. Senate. Both Ohio senators say they back the proposal in its previous and current forms.

Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman said he is pushing for one thing to be added to it - an amendment to safeguard the research that goes into the semiconductor chips that are used in phones, cars, computers, washing machines and many other products used in everyday life. He said foreign interests want this trade information.

“We’ve got to be sure that our legislation is passed to help protect this research,” Portman said.

Portman noted only 12% of semiconductor chips are made in the US. Most of the chips are currently made in China. President Joe Biden said making more of these chips on American soil will prevent supply chain problems and help with inflationary costs.

Ohio lawmakers from both parties have been supportive of the Intel project, which also has the support of President Biden.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers approved a two-year capital bill that includes $1.1 billion for the Intel facility. That includes some tax incentives that were promised as a way to get the company to build its new project in Ohio.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.