“America is back” and will lead the way in manufacturing semiconductor chips for defense technologies and a wide range of critical goods from cars to cell phones, President Joe Biden declared Friday at a groundbreaking for the new Intel Corp. semiconductor complex in Ohio.
The president is taking partial credit for helping to push bipartisan legislation through Congress to incentivize domestic semiconductor manufacturing and spur science and technology research and development.
Congress cleared the “chips and science” bill in July and Biden signed it Aug. 9. The law provides $53 billion for semiconductor manufacturing and design grants and $24 billion to create a 25 percent tax credit for new semiconductor manufacturing facilities, both of which will help Intel fund construction of its complex in Licking County, just outside of Columbus.
“The future of the chip industry is going to be made in America,” Biden said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Folks at home should know the manufacturing of these semiconductors connects countless small businesses and manufacturers into a supply chain that’s going to thrive all because of this law.”
Intel has announced an initial $20 billion investment to build at least two “fabs” where chips are manufactured at the new complex.
“We would not be here without our political leaders. We would not be here without the president and his leadership,” Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said at the ceremony, where he introduced Biden. “And of course it was a bipartisan bill. How often do you hear that today?”
Jobs and guardrails
Intel’s $20 billion investment will provide for 7,000 construction jobs and later 3,000 full-time chip production jobs, the White House said. Ahead of his remarks, Biden met with local union workers, including pipefitters, electricians, excavators, ironworkers, safety managers and shift supervisors, who will be working on the construction.
Biden spent much of his remarks discussing the history of semiconductor chips, noting the United States invented the technology that “powered NASA’s moon mission” and eventually spurred a massive industry.
“Over 30 years ago, America had more than 30 percent of the global chip production. Then something happened. American manufacturing — the backbone, the backbone of our economy — got hollowed out, companies moved jobs overseas, especially from the industrial Midwest,” he said. “And as a result, today, we’re down to producing barely 10 percent of the world’s chips, despite leading in chip research and design.”
The new law’s $79 billion in federal grants and tax credits will reverse that trend, but will not be a “blank check” to major corporations, Biden said. He noted the government can claw back the funding if recipients violate the law’s requirements and guardrails, like a provision preventing companies from making semiconductor investments in China over the next decade.
“I’ve directed my administration to be laser focused on the guardrails that will protect taxpayer dollars,” Biden said.
Groundbreaking ceremony attendees included Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican who is running for reelection in November, and several members of the bipartisan Ohio congressional delegation, including Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and Reps. Tim Ryan, Joyce Beatty and Troy Balderson.
Ryan, a Democrat, is running to flip the Senate seat held by Portman, a retiring Republican. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates his race against GOP nominee J.D. Vance Likely Republican. Vance was not present for the Intel groundbreaking, but has said he supports the chips and science law because it would create jobs in Ohio.
California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, who represents the Silicon Valley area where Intel is headquartered, and other lawmakers who worked on the bill, like House Science Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, also attended.
Biden provided shout-outs to many of the lawmakers in attendance and a few who weren’t. Although not a political event, Biden had the opportunity to promote Ryan. Instead, he spent more time complimenting Portman.
“I want to thank Rob Portman for being the gentleman and decent man that he is and for showing that Democrats and Republicans can work together to get big things done for our country. I really mean it … he’s a good man,” the president said. “Thank you, you’re leaving a hell of a legacy as you leave. What [we’re] doing is a consequence of you, in large part.”
As Biden introduced the Ohio delegation’s House members, Ryan was the first he mentioned but his comments about the Senate candidate were brief and rushed.
“Tim Ryan, thank you for your leadership, always representing the interests of working people,” Biden said.
It’s unclear if Biden would’ve spent more time hyping Ryan had the Youngstown representative not suggested in a Thursday interview with his local TV station that Biden should not seek a second term in 2024.
“My hunch is that we need new leadership across the board, Democrats, Republicans,” Ryan, who ran against Biden and a crowd of other Democrats for the 2020 presidential nomination, told the Youngstown station. “I think it’s time for like a generational move.”
Ryan, who has also pushed for a generational change in House leadership and unsuccessfully challenged longtime Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi for minority leader in 2016, did not do much Friday to walk back his comment.
“The president said from the very beginning he was going to be a bridge to the next generation, which is basically what I was saying,” he said.
Asked if Biden should run for a second term, Ryan said, “That’s up to him.”
Aidan Quigley contributed to this report.