GOP senators oppose Commerce guidance for CHIPS Act

U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) oppose recently released U.S. Department of Commerce guidance for applicants seeking federal semiconductor incentives provided for in the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act. 

“We are in strong opposition to regulations your department is putting in place that will use this legislation and the funding it provides as a tool to pursue controversial policies that go beyond the requirements of the law and reduce American jobs and high-tech investments in the process,” wrote the senators in a March 16 letter sent to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. 

“This overreach unfortunately does not come as a surprise considering you stated on the day you rolled out these regulations, ‘If Congress wasn’t going to do what they should have done, we’re going to do it in implementation,’” they wrote.

Their letter follows action by the Commerce Department on Feb. 28 when it announced several conditions for companies applying for the first round of semiconductor funding. Among them were mandates that the lawmakers said represent significant federal intervention in the private sector and “fly in the face of the congressional intent of this legislation.”

“Even worse, they will inevitably increase the time and already significant expense of producing semiconductors in the U.S., undermining our position in the high-tech race with the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” wrote the senators. “The CHIPS and Science Act was passed with strong bipartisan support because it represented an investment in American innovation and technology, which strengthened national security relative to the PRC. These onerous mandates fail to further these goals and instead stand to widen the gap between us and our adversaries.”

They urged Raimondo to remove all impositions on the funding that threatens the expansion of America’s semiconductor manufacturing capacity and job creation across the country, according to their letter, which was also signed by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).