Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said on Thursday that Senate Republicans got tricked into passing a semiconductor bill after believing that a Democrat reconciliation bill was dead.
On Thursday, the House passed the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act, a $280 billion package that would boost domestic semiconductor chip manufacturing and high-tech research. The legislation will now be sent to President Joe Biden’s desk to sign.
While Republicans were split on the merits of the legislation, most Republicans, including House Republican leadership, did not want to pass the CHIPS legislation if Democrats were to pursue a reconciliation bill to pass climate change, Obamacare, and other leftist priorities. Senate Republicans, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) supporting the bill, ensured the passage of the CHIPS bill this week.
The same day that the Senate passed the CHIPS bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced a deal on the Inflation Reduction Act, a bill that would aim to reduce the deficit, raise taxes, and boost climate change and Obamacare spending.
Announcing the deal immediately after Senate Republicans backed the CHIPS bill left many GOP lawmakers with egg on their faces.
“We got our ass kicked. It’s just that simple. Looks to me like we got rinky-doo’d. That’s a Louisiana word for ‘screwed.’ And we got our ass kicked. That’s the way my people back home see it,” Kennedy said.
Asked if he had played McConnell, the Senate majority leader said, “We’re just doing what we have to do.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said that Republicans’ support for key pieces of Biden’s legislative agenda amounts to a “branding calculation” so that the Republican Party does not become viewed as a party of gridlock.
Senate Republicans, including many of those in leadership, have become instrumental in passing major Biden initiatives, such as the so-called bipartisan infrastructure deal, or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and a gun control bill.
McConnell also lost to Schumer on a debt ceiling fight in 2021, which led to a debt to temporarily create a carveout for the legislative filibuster. One former senior GOP aide said the deal was to save McConnell’s “ego.”
Senate Republicans’ willingness to help pass Biden’s legislative agenda contrasts with House Republicans and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The GOP leader and most House Republicans have fought against passing the more substantive parts of Biden’s agenda.
“The Senate passed a bill that took a small, discretionary program and turned it into a $280 billion blank check – including $79 billion in mandatory spending on corporate welfare to be handed out to whomever President Biden wants,” McCarthy said on the House floor on Thursday ahead of the CHIPS vote. “For the record, I’m a NO on the Senate CHIPS bill that will come to the floor today. I was a NO last week, I was a NO last night, and I will be the first NO vote on the board later today.”
House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan (R-OH) said that Senate Republicans who work with Democrats on Biden priorities are “wrong.” He added, “I wish they wouldn’t.”
While not directly attacking McConnell, Jordan praised McCarthy for being on the “side of the American people” and noted that there has been tremendous “pushback” on the Senate GOP-backed gun control bill.