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Bill to expand domestic computer chip manufacturing clears US Senate

Congress Computer Chips
Jenny Kane
FILE - The inside of a computer is seen on Feb 23, 2019, in Jersey City, N.J. A global computer chip shortage has made it harder for consumers to get their hands on cars, computers and other modern-day necessities, so Congress is looking to boost chip manufacturing and research in the United States with billions of dollars from the federal government.

A bipartisan bill designed to boost computer chip manufacturing in the United States cleared the Senate Wednesday afternoon.

Independent Sen. Angus King, who serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Semiconductor Caucus, said it's one of the most important bills to come out of this Congress. And he believes the legislation could have a positive impact on Maine consumers and job creators, because it's designed to alleviate supply chain issues that have contributed to the rising cost of cars and household goods.

"One of the pieces of this bill is to create tech hubs around the country," King told reporters Wednesday during a virtual press conference. "Maine is certainly going to try to compete to be one of those."

The bill, known as the CHIPS for America Act, sets aside $11 billion for semiconductor research and $39 billion to build new or expand existing semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the United States. South Portland is home to two such facilities, which King said could receive funding to expand their capacity.

"But there are other businesses and job creators, like Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Bath Iron Works, where these very complex products that are built and repaired and maintained at those facilities, again, require computer chips," King said.

The bill now heads to the House, where it also has bipartisan support.