Fourth District Congressman Tom Cole was the only member of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation to vote for the Chips and Science Act passed by both the House and Senate last week.
The state’s other four House members and both US senators did not vote on the measure, which authorizes nearly $172 billion in subsidies, tax credits and federal programs to boost semiconductor chip manufacturing in this country.
US Sen. Jim Inhofe said the bill “neglects resident expertise in the Defense Department”; US Sen. James Lankford attributed his vote to a narrow concentration on semiconductors and what he said was a lack of oversight.
Hours after the Senate passed the bill with substantial Republican support, Democrats announced agreement within their caucus on the budget reconciliation bill. This angered some in the GOP, who voted for the chips and science bill in the hope that there would be no such agreement.
According to the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget, the reconciliation bill would reduce the federal budget deficit by $50–$100 billion a year. It will do so, however, by reducing the amount the federal government pays for prescription drugs and by offset incentives for green energy by eliminating some tax benefits for corporations and hedge fund managers.
Many Republicans are skeptical at best.
First District Congressman Kevin Hearn was among the Republicans who urged him not to cast a vote on the Chips and Science Act, telling him, “Now is the time to fight.”
Third District Congressman Frank Lucas, who had put years of time and effort into the bill as the top Republican on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, “reluctantly” agreed.
However, Cole said the two measures should not be interchanged.
“You don’t vote against something you support because there’s something you don’t support — different items that need to be dealt with separately,” he told Politico.
“While this is not the correct bill, nor what I would have written, it is the right step towards keeping Communist China away and protecting our country’s economic and security interests,” Cole said. “At a time when China is increasingly aggressive and dangerously trying to control the world order, the Chips and Science Act significantly strengthens America’s global competitiveness.”
“This bill authorizes substantial funding for our nation’s scientific research and development enterprise to ensure American leadership in key sectors such as aerospace and energy,” Cole said. “In addition, it prioritizes tomorrow’s workforce by investing in STEM education and workforce development programs to train Americans for new jobs in these fields.”
Just the day before, Lucas told a Republican group that some kind of science bill that includes semiconductors is necessary.
“The need to make fundamental investments in the ability to produce chips, microprocessors and the resources we need in this country is critical,” he said. “Many of my Republican colleagues get super-juicy about the national defense angle. That’s absolutely right. I’ve been at briefings where they describe the number of processors we use as some of the most basic, fundamental Weapons go to systems.
Lucas said the lack of components is felt in every sector of the economy.
“I can tell you it’s not just the inability to buy automobiles, farm trucks, or cars and trucks,” he said. “You can’t even buy a tractor. They are also loaded with processors. You can’t buy anything. Hence the need.”