Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector has qualified for millions of dollars in grants thanks to President Joe Biden’s bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act. Democratic Sen. Bob Casey helped pass the legislation, while his likely 2024 Republican opponent, Dave McCormick, railed against it.
On Oct. 23, the White House announced the selection of 31 Regional Innovation and Technology Hubs across the United States through the August 2022 legislation’s Tech Hubs provisions. Among the hubs now eligible for up to $75 million in competitive implementation grants is the Greater Philadelphia region, where Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA will lead efforts to advance personalized medicine.
Casey, who voted for the CHIPS and Science law and advocated for the proposed Philadelphia-area hub, cheered the announcement: “I fought for Greater Philadelphia’s tech hub designation because there is no better place suited to lead the critical precision medicine field. This transformative investment will further cement Southeastern Pennsylvania as a national and global leader in medical innovation. As a tech hub and a hydrogen hub, Philadelphia and the region are paving the way to our Nation’s economic future.”
Casey announced a week earlier that two parts of Pennsylvania had been designated hydrogen hubs under Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars for clean energy development.
In a separate Oct. 23 announcement, Casey touted a $400,000 CHIPS and Science Act grant for the North Central Pressed Materials Strategy Development Consortium to develop pressed materials for electric vehicles and other purposes. “I fought for this award to help North Central Pennsylvania realize its potential as a manufacturing powerhouse,” he said. “When we invest in Pennsylvania’s rural communities, we create jobs in communities that were long underserved, grow local economies, and lead the way to our Nation’s economic future.”
Though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and 16 other Republican senators voted for the law to boost domestic microchip, science, and technology manufacturing, McCormick repeatedly opposed it, saying it meant the government was “picking winners and losers.”
In an April video, first flagged by the progressive super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, McCormick objected to the CHIPS and Science Act providing funds to help workers pay for child care.
“I think the CHIPS Act was a good example of the slippery slope. The motivation was, I think, well-founded,” he said. “There was things about the CHIPS Act that I thought were useful, but soon after its passage you saw the set of Commerce Department policies associated with the recipients of the funding from the CHIPS Act, in terms of day care, and diversity, and all these other things, where you’re trying to impose a set of political — the Biden administration is trying to impose a set of political objectives on top of a set of technological leadership objectives.”
The administration required that applicants for grants of more than $150 million include plans to provide accessible and affordable child care for the benefit of their employees, noting that a lack of such care “is one of the largest constraints keeping Americans — and especially women” out of the nation’s workforce. The text of the law also requires that diversity and inclusion in the technology center be considered in awarding grants.
“Bob Casey is committed to investing in Pennsylvania communities to create jobs and grow local economies, while David McCormick has invested millions in China and shipped jobs overseas, devastating local communities in the process,” Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesperson Maddy McDaniel said in an email. “Pennsylvanians know who is on their side and that’s Bob Casey.”
A McCormick campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Navigator poll released Oct. 24 found strong public support for the CHIPS and Science Act. Asked for their view of the “bipartisan law that invests in domestic semiconductor manufacturing, improves our domestic supply chains, boosts economic competition with China, & has created more than 100,000 new American jobs,” 69% of registered voters indicated their support and 16% said they opposed it.
A Quinnipiac University poll released in early October found Casey leading McCormick 50%-44% in a potential Senate race.