The Senate voted March 21 to invoke cloture on House-passed legislation designed to fully fund the CHIPS Act to boost domestic semiconductor production and create a new technology directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The cloture vote kicks off legislative action designed to replace the text of the House-passed America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act with the text of the Senate-passed United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), pass that bill in the Senate, and send it back to the House.

At that point, a conference committee of senators and House members would convene a conference committee to reconcile any differences over the legislation, then both chambers would take a final vote on the bill.

“Glad to see the Senate move forward on the America COMPETES Act last night – I’ve worked hard to secure provisions that would bring manufacturing back to the United States to make us more competitive and lower prices for all,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., tweeted today. “It’s time to get this done.”

The Senate first passed USICA last July, after if morphed from the Endless Frontiers Act. The House initially chose to pass a pair of USICA alternatives, that were then folded into the America COMPETES legislation that passed the House in early February.

Both bills include $52 billion in funding for the CHIPS Act, initially passed as part of the fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. The bills also include funding to create a new science and engineering solutions directorate at NSF. However, each bill has a different name for such a directorate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said when invoking cloture March 17 that he hopes to get the bill passed and back to the House to begin the conferencing process this week.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.