Biden signs CHIPS Act, intended to relieve the pandemic-era computer chip shortage

The president called the package "a once-in-a-generation investment in America."

August 9, 2022, 1:35 PM

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed a multibillion-dollar bill to boost domestic computer chip manufacturing and more, touting the bipartisan package as "a once-in-a-generation investment in America itself."

The law -- known as the CHIPS and Science Act -- spends nearly $53 billion to spur research in and development of America's semiconductor industry. It is intended to address a nearly two-year global chip shortage that stemmed from supply chain issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Semiconductors are common in everyday items from cell phones to cars to microwaves and more; experts compare them to the "brain" for any machine with a computer system.

Tuesday's event coincided with GlobalFoundries, Micron and Qualcomm announcing partnerships and investments that total nearly $45 billion.

Micron's $40-billion investment "will bring the U.S. market share of memory chip production from less than 2 percent to up to 10 percent over the next decade," the White House said in a statement.

President Joe Biden listens during a signing ceremony for the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, at an event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C, Aug. 9, 2022.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The bill enacted Tuesday also has a national defense angle, its supporter say, as Congress and the White House look to bolster chip production domestically.

According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, a lobbying group focused on semiconductor manufacturing, the U.S. produces 12% of the world's chips, down from 37% in 1990.

At the signing event, Biden was joined by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

"In the last six weeks alone, we passed not only CHIPS and Science, but also veterans' health care, gun safety, NATO and now the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has passed the Senate," Schumer said, referring to the recent reconciliation spending bill that Democrats narrowly approved last weekend.

That package had temporarily created turmoil for CHIPS in Congress.

Following a surprise agreement between Schumer and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia that revived the IRA, some Republicans said they felt slighted by the Democratic progress on a party-line reconciliation package mere hours after CHIPS passed the upper chamber with a bipartisan majority.

President Joe Biden walks to deliver remarks and sign the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Aug. 9, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

Despite that consternation, Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Todd Young of Indiana attended Tuesday's bill signing. Young led the GOP in negotiations on the bill, which ultimately passed the Senate 64-33 on July 27.

"I don't want to get you in trouble, but you did a hell of a job," Biden said to the two Republicans.

The president, at times, spoke through a thick, wet cough during the ceremony. The White House has said he repeatedly tested negative for COVID over the weekend, and he subsequently left isolation after a rebound case of the infection.

Biden did not mention the FBI's Monday search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, which Trump decried as political persecution. (Sources told ABC News the operation was related to the 15 boxes of documents that Trump took when he departed the White House, some of which the National Archives has said were marked classified.)

A White House official previously told ABC News the administration was not aware of the search in advance, referring questions to the Department of Justice.

ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky and Allison Pecorin contributed to this report.