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Biden signs semiconductor bill, bid to add Finland and Sweden to NATO

In a pair of afternoon signing ceremonies, President Joe Biden approved a bill to boost U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and a resolution ratifying Finland and Sweden’s bids to join the Western military alliance.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Capping off an eventful month in Congress, President Joe Biden gave his signature of approval Tuesday afternoon to legislation aimed at boosting domestic semiconductor manufacturing and documents supporting Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

Biden signed the $280 billion Chips and Science Act into law early Tuesday in front of a crowd of lawmakers and staff, heralding the bipartisan legislation as the key to resolving supply chain woes, bolstering American manufacturing of electronic chips and countering China's dominance in the production market.

Calling the legislation a "once in a generation investment in America itself," Biden recalled how the Covid-19 pandemic triggered an international shortage of the small electronic chips used in everything from cars and cellphones to military weapons.

"When factories that make these chips shut down, the global economy comes to a screeching halt, driving up costs for families and everyone, not just here, but around the world," the president said before signing the bill into law. "Folks, we need to make these chips here in America, bring down everyday cost and create jobs."

Congress passed the bill funding semiconductor research and dolling out $52 billion in grants for American manufacturing at the end of July.

"China's trying to move way ahead of us to manufacture these sophisticated chips as well," Biden said. "The United States must lead the world in the production of these advanced chips. this law will do exactly that."

The semiconductor chip was invented in the United States, but the American share of semiconductor production has fallen over recent decades and other countries such as China and Taiwan take up the majority of the modern microchip market.

"Last century, American prosperity was anchored on our unmatched commitment to scientific research and innovation. The question facing America today is whether that prosperity will live on in the century to come. Today, by enacting the Chips and Science Act, the largest investment in manufacturing science and innovation in decades, we say that America's best years still lie ahead," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at the bill signing.

Idaho-based manufacturer Micron Technology announced Tuesday that it plans to invest $40 billion in domestic semiconductor production thanks to the legislation. Biden said Micron estimates the project will create 40,000 jobs in the U.S.

The Chips and Science Act was just one of a flurry of bills that made their way through Congress in the last few weeks before lawmakers hit the road for August break.

Before heading out of Washington, Congress passed bipartisan gun legislation, a bill to aid veterans impacted by toxic exposure, and the Senate both voted to pass a sweeping climate change bill and agreed to ratify Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO.

"What a six weeks it has been for the Senate," Schumer said.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Biden held a second singing ceremony officially endorsing and signing off on Sweden and Finland's bids to join NATO.

"It is a watershed moment. I believe in the alliance and for the greater security stability, not only of Europe and the United States, but of the world," Biden said during a speech at the White House.

The two Nordic nations have long avoided joining the alliance, instead favoring strategies of nonalignment with other foreign nations. But in May, the two countries formally applied for membership and NATO invited them to join the alliance back in June, a significant geopolitical shift for global politics.

Last week, the Senate voted 95-1, with Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri casting the only dissenting vote, to usher the two countries into NATO.

The U.S. ratification of Finland and Sweden's membership comes almost six months after Russia invaded Ukraine, directing a brutal attack on the former Soviet nation and upending the previous geopolitical climate.

"Putin thought he could break us apart. When this all started, he believed he could break us apart, in my view, weaken our resolve. Instead, he's getting exactly what he did not want. He wanted the Finlandization of NATO. He's getting the NATOization of Finland, along with Sweden," Biden said.

Legislatures of all 30 NATO member nations need to ratify Finland and Sweden’s bids for membership before they can join the Western alliance. The U.S. is the 23rd member nation to approve their membership.

"Together with our allies and partners, we're going to write the future we want to see. The future we want to see. And in a moment when Putin's Russia has shattered peace and security in Europe, when autocrats are challenging the very foundations of a rule-based order, the strength of the transatlantic alliance, America's commitment to NATO is more important than has ever been," Biden said.

He added, "Our alliance is closer than ever. It is more united than ever and, when Finland and Sweden bring the number of allies to 32, will be stronger than ever."

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