COLUMBUS, Ohio — The multi-billion dollar project in Ohio to revitalize the country's supply chain is slowly moving forward after months of inaction in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Senate, led by Republican Sen. Rob Portman and a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday, voted that evening to approve the latest version of the CHIPS Act.
Other Ohio members of Congress, such as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan have continuously been trying to work together to make this plan possible — with Ohio's labor union crediting the two for laying the groundwork.
The chips are used in everything from cars to cell phones to military weapons.
"The bipartisan CHIPS Act, which includes reshoring semiconductor manufacturing to America and giving American workers and American companies the tools they need to compete and win," Portman said while giving a speech on the floor. "The CHIPS Act specifically would bring $52 billion in federal investments for domestic semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing. The broader bill, so-called USICA bill, last June passed this Senate with an overwhelming bipartisan vote."
The House worked on the bill for about a year, but once they passed it, Portman said "it was filled with all sorts of unrelated items that no Republican could support."
Semiconductor maker Intel is spending $20 billion to create a microchip factory site in Licking County, a 20-minute drive from downtown Columbus. With the CHIPS Act, Intel said they would bump up their $20 billion to $100 billion.
The project had come to a halt after Intel postponed the groundbreaking to protest Congress not being able to come to an agreement on the act.
RELATED:Intel delays Ohio plant groundbreaking due to uncertainty of Congress passing CHIPS Act
"We're glad the logjam seems to have been broken in Congress," Tim Burga, Ohio American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) president, said. "We're going to get this bill done here soon."
Burga and his more than one million union workers have been waiting in the wings for Intel’s investment.
The initial $20 billion would create 10,000 jobs. About 3,000 of those jobs are direct Intel jobs with an average salary of $135,000. The other 7,000 are construction jobs over the course of the build. But Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted say tens of thousands of jobs will be created indirectly from the site.
"Tens of thousands of additional electrical, engineering, supplier, restaurant, housing, health care and entertainment jobs to support the region as it expands thanks to this investment," Portman added. "The suppliers alone will be tens of thousands of new jobs."
RELATED:‘Silicon Heartland’: Biden shouts out Ohio’s $100 billion Intel project during State of the Union
President Joe Biden, Brown and Ryan were the driving force of this merger and talking about the importance of competing with China on a more level playing field, Burga said.
"We feel very confident that Intel understands that this central Ohio is the place for them, for the workforce, for the stability of what they need to produce such a high tech piece of componentry," the union leader said.
The plant could also lessen supply chain issues, which Husted said would reduce inflation.
"Right now, other nations, Europe, Asia, are heavily subsidizing that industry — it's gone away from America," the lieutenant governor said. "America makes 0% of the most high tech computer chips in the world right now."
The lack of semiconductors in 2021 caused an estimated loss of $240 billion to the U.S. GDP, according to the Department of Commerce.
With the project, Ohio is projected to add $2.8 billion in annual gross state product, according to the legislators.
"We are encouraged by the Senate's vote on the Motion to Proceed, but there is more to do," Intel Spokesperson William Moss told News 5. "U.S. government incentives for domestic semiconductor manufacturing are critical for both our national and economic security, and we will continue to work with Congress to get a final vote to fund the CHIPS Act so we can move forward at the speed and scale we have long envisioned for Ohio and our other projects to help restore U.S. semiconductor manufacturing leadership and build a more resilient semiconductor supply chain."
The House of Representatives is set to vote on this version of the CHIPS Act in the next few weeks.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for the state of Ohio to move forward and especially to help regain footing in distressed areas where we've lost so many manufacturing jobs or so many energy related jobs," Burga said. "It's something that we're going to continue to push through until we get it finalized."
Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.