Marco Rubio defends vote against CHIPS bill in room full of microchip execs
Thomas Sonderman leads Marco Rubio on a tour of SkyWater plant.

Thomas Sondermann and Marco Rubio
As long as China can steal technology from American companies, the U.S. shouldn't invest, Rubio said.

Two weeks after voting against a bill to provide $52.7 billion in subsidies for U.S. semiconductor production and research, Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio defended his vote in a room full of semiconductor corporate executives.

After touring the SkyWater chip plant in Kissimmee, and hearing several executives at a roundtable he empaneled herald the recent passage of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, Rubio laid out his objections to the bill, which he said overcame his support for the bill’s intention, investing in American technology innovation to compete with China.

But there was that objection, and Rubio explained himself in depth to the tech company executives gathered at the SkyWater offices in Osceola County’s NeoCity tech business park, just outside of Kissimmee: Rubio contended microchip makers got the bill’s security provisions watered down so much there would be little or no defense against China’s intellectual property theft of American innovations.

“I think they were very strongly supportive of what I am very strongly supportive of, which is government investment in this field,” Rubio said later at a news conference. “What I can’t support … the law, the way it was written, was watered down by some of the big chip companies for purposes of benefiting their business model.”

The issue of support for or opposition to the CHIPS Act, approved in a bipartisan fashion in Congress and signed Tuesday by President Joe Biden, is already emerging as a 2022 U.S. Senate election campaign wedge between Rubio and his likely November opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando.

The CHIPS bill actually was rolled into another for Supreme Court funding, H.R. 4346. Rubio was one of 33 Republicans to vote “no” in the Senate in late July, while 17 Republicans voted “yes.” Florida’s U.S. Sen. Rick Scott also voted “no.”

Rubio has long promoted two ideas regarding semiconductor research and manufacturing, and he said they came into conflict with the final version of the CHIPS Act.

Despite his desire to be seen as a free-market capitalist, he told the gathering at NeoCity he believes there are times when the government needs to override market outcomes, and investing in American microchip technology innovation and manufacturing is a key example.

Yet he also believes China’s dominance in the microchip manufacturing center combined with the government’s virtually open promotion of theft of intellectual properties like semiconductor design must be addressed first before America invests heavily in American research he believes will ultimately be stolen by China.

“If we’re going to invest billions of dollars of your money, taxpayer money, in developing semiconductors, we should at least have additional security requirements, because they’re already stealing our innovations now,” Rubio told reporters afterwards.

The roundtable discussion began with semiconductor business executive hosts, including SkyWater CEO Thomas Sonderman, praising the CHIPS Act.

Rubio wasted no time offering his assessment in response. Yes, America needs to be investing in American technology research, even if that means bending the free market rules.

Yet, Rubio told the roundtable, the risk of China stealing America’s technology innovations is currently too great to invest right now. He argued lax rules are in place about when and how American companies can have chips actually manufactured in China, where the government and government-owned tech manufacturing companies are conspiring to reengineer and steal the technology.

“The greatest threat to intellectual properties in human history has happened in just the last decade. Hundreds of billions of dollars of research, often funded by the American taxpayer, turned over,” Rubio said.

Demings, who strongly supported the CHIPS Act, also acknowledged security concerns. Last week, she called on Congress to pass the National Critical Capabilities Defense Act as a necessary provision to ensure American manufacturing competes with China.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


3 comments

  • Don’t Look Up

    August 11, 2022 at 4:39 pm

    REPUBLICANS ARE AMERICA’S PROBLEM. VOTE REPUBLICANS OUT OF OFFICE.

  • marylou

    August 11, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    Another Marco Career Highlight: voted for Florida’s Scarlet Letter Law, which forced single mothers who wanted to put their babies up for adoption to buy ads in their local newspaper detailing their recent sexual histories and partners.

    The ads included women’s names, ages, physical descriptions including her hair, weight and eye color. Women were required to provide details about their sexual encounters — including names of sexual partners, dates and locations. The legislation had no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, and even required girls under the age of 18 to comply.

    Vote out Marco to de-stigmatize Adoption and protect babies!

  • just sayin

    August 12, 2022 at 7:32 am

    A politician voted against a group and then talked to that group about why he did it? We should be celebrating this behavior. Most politicians would do that and then run and hide.

Comments are closed.


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