Office of Rep. Derek Kilmer press release.
On August 10, President Joe Biden signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, legislation aimed at investing in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, strengthening American research and development, creating jobs, and lowering costs for families.
The legislation, which passed the House and the Senate with bipartisan support, included a pilot program of the Rebuilding Economies and Creating Opportunities for More People Everywhere to Excel Act (RECOMPETE Act) – bipartisan legislation that was introduced by U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) to establish a new $1 billion federal grant program to invest in communities that have faced long-term economic challenges. President Biden is expected to sign the legislation into law in the coming days.
“I grew up in Port Angeles and was in high school right around the time the timber industry took it on the chin. I saw a lot of my friends’ parents lose their jobs. It had a big impact on me – and I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to figure out how to make sure we are doing a better job of protecting workers and communities so that no one gets left behind in our society and economy,” said Rep. Kilmer. “That’s why I’m proud that a pilot version of the bipartisan RECOMPETE Act has been signed into law by the President. The RECOMPETE Act is a bold proposal to provide flexible, long-term grant assistance to create jobs and lay the foundation for long-term economic growth and opportunity. It’s about ensuring people have economic opportunity – regardless of what zip code they live in.”
Distressed communities, as identified by the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, are home to over one-sixth of the U.S. population where workers ages 25 to 54 experience significantly higher unemployment rates than the national average. The Upjohn Institute’s analysis suggests that these communities have largely been left out of the investment, wealth, innovation, and opportunity that has instead been concentrated in a handful of major metro areas in recent decades.
The RECOMPETE Pilot Program will provide distressed local labor markets, local communities, and Tribal governments with flexible 10-year Recompete Grants to invest in a variety of local economic development needs and increase employment rates. Grants could be used for infrastructure investments, brownfield redevelopment, workforce development, small business assistance, resources to connect residents to opportunities, and other investments to help communities rebuild.
“Congressman Derek Kilmer and the New Democrat Coalition have helped secure a major victory for American families and communities – in Washington and across the country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “Thanks to Congressman Kilmer’s persistent leadership, the CHIPS and Science Act will invest $1 billion in tackling economic inequity and lifting up persistently distressed communities. His RECOMPETES initiative will advance Democrats’ fight to put Politics Over People: creating good-paying jobs, reinvigorating local communities and widening the pathway to prosperity.”
“New Dems are focused on ensuring Americans can compete and thrive in the 21st century economy,” said New Democrat Coalition Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01). “That’s why we have led the charge on the CHIPS and Science Act, legislation that will lower costs for Americans and boost American innovation, competitiveness, economic growth, and jobs. Our members also worked hard to secure Chair Emeritus Rep. Derek Kilmer’s RECOMPETE Act in this legislation, a critical priority for New Dems, which will creating lasting growth, jobs, and opportunities in persistently distressed communities. As we invest in the future of our economy, it’s critical that we invest in the places that have been left behind. Thanks to Rep. Kilmer’s leadership, this legislation will do just that.”
In addition to the RECOMPETE Pilot Program, the CHIPS and Science Act makes investments that aim to ensure the U.S. continues to lead in semiconductor research and manufacturing, which will help fix supply chains and create jobs. In addition, the legislation makes investments in the American manufacturing enterprise through investments in the Manufacturing Extension Partnership – including Impact Washington, which helped create over 2,200 jobs in Fiscal Year 2021. The CHIPS and Science Act also includes provisions that aim to help build a strong and diverse STEM workforce to help address complex scientific and societal challenges, including solutions for the climate crisis.
“This CHIPS and Science Act will help improve our nation’s supply chains, prevent shortages of critical goods, and ensure that more critical goods are made here in America,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Ultimately, that will help create more jobs, lower costs for families, and ensure that we don’t leave any community behind.”
The CHIPS and Science Act also included key tenets of the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Kilmer to fight ocean acidification. The billwould allow federal agencies to use existing funds to conduct prize competitions to increase the ability to research, monitor, and manage ocean acidification and its impacts.
“We know that changing ocean chemistry threatens entire livelihoods and industries in our state. So, the bipartisan Ocean Acidification Act is really about jobs,” said Rep. Kilmer. “There are generations of folks in our coastal communities who have worked in fishing and shellfish growing, but that’s endangered if we don’t maintain a healthy Pacific Ocean. This bill creates a strong incentive for experts to focus on developing innovative solutions to this serious challenge.”
Support for the RECOMPETE Act
The RECOMPETE Act is supported by 50+ bipartisan Members of Congress and is endorsed by the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the New Democrat Coalition, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the Progressive Policy Institute, Third Way, and the Economic Innovation Group. Companion legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate was led by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and co-sponsored by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
“Around the country, some communities have been left behind by American economic progress. This Pilot Program will target the most distressed communities with job opportunities, business investment, and other resources to demonstrate what’s possible we make a focused, long-term commitment to regions that need help. I was proud to work alongside Rep. Kilmer and my colleagues in the Senate to include the RECOMPETE Pilot Program in the CHIPS+Science legislation and lift up Americans across the country,” said Senator Coons.
“As we continue our economic recovery, we must invest in communities across Nevada that were hit hard,” said Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV). “That’s why I fought to secure this provision in the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act so that we can meet local economic development needs, create good-paying jobs, and invest in our workers and businesses.”
The RECOMPETE Pilot Program passed the House as part of the America COMPETES Act of 2022 and President Joe Biden requested federal funding in his Fiscal Year 2023 plan for the RECOMPETE Act.
“Through the Economic Development Agency, the RECOMPETE Act would give municipalities access to flexible grants to meet economic development needs, create good jobs, invest in their workforce, and connect residents to opportunities within persistently distressed communities,” said Clarence Anthony, CEO & Executive Director of the National League of Cities (NLC) in a letter supporting the RECOMPETE Act. “This bill recognizes the overall need to invest in America’s workforce and the differing needs within each community. By maintaining flexibility and local control, city leaders in persistently distressed communities can tailor workforce investments to properly prepare their residents to work in critical industries within the local economy. NLC is committed to realizing equitable solutions, and the RECOMPETE Act prioritizes investment where it is needed most.”
“Providing local communities and governments with the flexible economic tools they need to succeed is a key component to building back better after this pandemic. Our leaders who are working on-the-ground in economically distressed communities know best when it comes to supporting job growth and investing in their local economy, which is why the RECOMPETE Act is such an important bill. The Progressive Policy Institute applauds Representatives Kilmer and Herrera and Senator Coons on this commonsense, bipartisan legislation, and encourages its swift passage through Congress. Our communities need this funding now,” said Will Marshall, President of the Progressive Policy Institute.
“Over the last 40 years, federal support to help lagging regions and communities rebound has been declining. Moreover, current efforts are often too little, too late to make a real difference for communities. The RECOMPETE Act would address these shortcomings by providing flexible long-term assistance to help persistently distressed labor markets, and the workers there, get back on their feet,” said Robert D. Atkinson, Ph. D., President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “The United States can no longer afford to write off whole communities. The RECOMPETE Act is an important step in reversing this trend.”
“As America builds back from COVID, we need a bold agenda that focuses on creating jobs in every zip code in the country. And we must make sure those jobs lead to prosperity and a good life,” said Gabe Horwitz, Senior Vice President for the Economic Program at Third Way. “Rep. Derek Kilmer’s leadership on these issues and his latest legislation should be applauded. His new federal block grant program would truly help persistently distressed communities—giving them flexible tools to invest in job growth, workers, and economic opportunity. We hope policymakers join his effort and this innovative idea becomes law.”
“The Washington State Association of Counties’ Federal Issues Committee agreed unanimously to support this innovative legislation. The block grant approach would empower historically distressed communities to craft targeted solutions to address the unique economic challenges within their communities. This legislation would move past the usual one-sized-fits-all approach that doesn’t reflect the uniqueness of our respective economies,” said Robert Gelder, Kitsap County Commissioner and federal issues committee chair for the Washington State Association of Counties.