February 3, 2023

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 U.S. senators voted no on the measure, which authorizes roughly $172 billion in subsidies, tax credits and federal programs to promote semiconductor chip manufacturing in this country.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said the bill “all but ignores the expertise resident in the Department of Defense”; U.S. Sen. James Lankford attributed his vote to the narrow concentration on semiconductors and what he said is a lack of oversight.

Hours after the Senate passed the bill with substantial Republican support, Democrats announced agreement within their caucus on a budget reconciliation bill. That angered some in the GOP, who had voted for the Chips and Science bill in the expectation that no such agreement would be forthcoming.

According to the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget, the reconciliation bill would lower the federal budget deficit by $50-$100 billion a year. It would do so, however, by offsetting incentives for green energy by reducing the amount the federal government pays for prescription drugs and eliminating some tax advantages for corporations and hedge fund managers.

Many Republicans are skeptical at best.

First District Congressman Kevin Hern was among the Republicans urging a no vote on the Chips and Science Act as a result, telling them, “Now is the time to fight.”

Third District Congressman Frank Lucas, who as the top Republican on the House Science, Space and Technology committee, had put years of time and effort into the bill, “reluctantly” agreed.

Cole, however, said the two measures should not be connected.

“You don’t vote against something you support because something happens that you don’t support — separate items that need to be dealt with separately,” he told Politico.

“Although this is not a perfect bill and not the one I would have written, it is a step in the right direction toward keeping Communist China at bay and protecting our nation’s economic and security interests,” said Cole. “At a time when China is becoming increasingly aggressive and dangerously trying to command the world order, the CHIPS and Science Act importantly strengthens America’s global competitiveness.”

“This bill also authorizes substantial funding for our nation’s scientific research and development enterprise to ensure American leadership in key fields such as aerospace and energy,” Cole said. “Moreover, it prioritizes the workforce of tomorrow by investing in STEM education and workforce development programs to train Americans for new jobs in these fields.”

Just a day earlier, Lucas told a Republican group that some sort of science bill that includes semiconductors is a must.

“The need to make fundamental investments in the capacity to produce the chips, the microprocessors, and the resources we need in this country is important,” he said. “Many of my Republican colleagues get super-juiced about the national defense angle. That’s entirely right. I’ve been in briefings where they’ve described the number of processors that go into some of the most basic, fundamental weapons systems that we use.”

Lucas said a shortage of the components is felt in every area of the economy.

“I can tell you that it’s not just the inability to buy automobiles, farm trucks, or cars and trucks,” he said. “You also can’t buy a tractor. They’re full of processors, too. You can’t buy anything. So the need is there.”

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