Column – House passes PACT and CHIPS and Science acts

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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By Donald McEachin

Guest columnist

Although the U.S. House of Representatives was in recess last month, August was still a very busy time for Congress and the Senate, with critical votes such as the he Honoring Our Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, and the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America (CHIPS) and Science Act.

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The CHIPS and Science Act would bring semiconductor chip manufacturing back to the United States. In doing so, this will lower the cost of goods, bolster domestic production, provide good paying jobs, and mitigate supply chain issues. As a result of this legislation, companies have already announced nearly $50 billion in additional investments in chip manufacturing.

We are working hard to ensure Virginia receives its fair share of federal funding and to attract manufacturers to consider Virginia for its new facilities, which would help create more jobs in our district and across the Commonwealth.

The PACT Act was a major accomplishment to support our brave veterans. This long overdue legislation honors our commitment to our veterans who risk their lives to protect our freedom and, unfortunately, have been exposed to toxic chemicals while in service to our nation.

The PACT Act will expand health care benefits for millions of soldiers exposed to burn pits during their service. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs projects up to 3.5 million veterans may benefit from this legislation.

I also joined my House colleagues in passing the Inflation Reduction Act last month.

The IRA will take meaningful steps to lower the costs of health care and prescription drugs, combat inflation, reduce the federal deficit, and provide robust investments in our continued fight against the climate crisis.

Here in Virginia, energy bills will go down, air will be cleaner and families will be able to live healthier lives.

I am also proud to say that the IRA includes notable environmental justice priorities I have advocated for since my time in Congress. These include billions for clean energy tax provisions to incentivize families to buy electric vehicles and retrofit their homes, urban forestry and tree planting, the electrification of our school buses, air pollution monitoring and mitigation, and so much more.

This legislation represents the largest federal investment to combat climate change in our nation’s history. There were some provisions in the bill that I would not have supported on their own, including opening up lands to drilling and attempts to weaken environmental review laws; however, I am still excited about this legislation and was proud to support it.

Finally, I was honored to participate in a forum put together by the Digital Dialogue Forum, a nonpartisan policy coalition comprised of the world’s leading technology companies. This was an excellent opportunity to touch on the importance of equal access to high-speed broadband and the work to close the digital divide.

In my time in Congress, I have been working diligently to connect more Americans, and particularly Virginians, to affordable, high-speed internet. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed last year included $65 billion to expand broadband infrastructure into historically underserved communities to provide reliable internet. I will continue my efforts to ensure affordability and access to reliable digital infrastructure across the country.

U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., represents Suffolk in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached via