Rep. Frank Lucas backtracks on research bill he helped draft

After working for three years on a bill to boost scientific research in the United States, Rep. Frank Lucas voted against the legislation on Thursday and blamed a Democratic budget deal reached in the Senate this week that will raise corporate taxes to fund climate and health initiatives. .

“What we need right now is policy to make our economy stronger and more competitive, not backroom deals that raise corporate taxes and increase government spending. … I owe it to my constituents to vote in their best interests and today that means voting against legislation that I have long supported, Lucas, R-Cheyenne, told the House.

Lucas said in an interview that he could not support the $280 billion legislation knowing it would now be followed by a large tax, climate and health bill.

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The Chips and Research Act, a package of bills including $52 billion to help private companies make computer chips and a series of initiatives to boost scientific research, passed House 243 against 187, with 24 Republicans joining nearly all Democrats in support.

Representative Tom Cole, R-Moore, was the only one of Oklahoma’s five members in the House to support the bill. He hailed it as “a step in the right direction to keep communist China at bay and protect our nation’s economic and security interests.”

He said, “At a time when China is becoming increasingly aggressive and dangerously trying to dominate the world order, the Chip and Science Act significantly bolsters America’s global competitiveness by investing in technology. national semiconductor industry and by encouraging the manufacture of these critical technological elements at the national level. ”

The Senate approved the package earlier this week, with both Oklahoma senators in opposition.

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The legislation was a priority for President Joe Biden, who said Thursday it was “exactly what we need to do to grow our economy right now.” By making more semiconductors in the United States, this bill will increase domestic manufacturing and reduce costs for families. And it will strengthen our national security by making us less dependent on foreign sources of semiconductors.

Lucas’ change of heart came less than 24 hours after he praised the legislation in the House Rules Committee and said he planned to vote for it.

“We have a unique chance to set the direction of American science and technology development and ensure that our values ​​of openness and fairness underpin critical technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence) and quantum science. “, said Lucas at the Hearing of the Rules Committee.

Lucas said drafting science and technology research legislation has been his top priority since taking office as the top Republican on the science, space and technology committee in 2019.

This piece of legislation approved Thursday focuses on public research at the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and universities, while also including applied research initiatives in the private sector.

“Chip politics will build factories now,” Lucas said Wednesday. “The research policy will build decades of scientific innovation and economic growth.”

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Rep. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, is also a member of the science committee and also voted against the bill.

Lucas said the deal Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, reached on raising taxes to pay for climate and health policies raises the question for him and some other Republicans of whether they should essentially endorse a “misconduct” in the legislative process. They decided they couldn’t, he said.

He pointed to the bipartisan work done by the science committee, but said it was later taken over by Democratic leaders. Also, he said, many Republicans had agreed to support the science bill because they didn’t think another major package was on the table.

Manchin said his deal would actually reduce deficit spending because he would generate more money from a corporate tax than he would spend.

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