Joe Biden on Monday urged Congress “as soon as possible” to pass legislation providing $52 billion to support semiconductor manufacturing in the United States.
“The United States invented semiconductors, but over time we took production abroad,” the American president lamented in front of economic and union officials. It is “urgent” for him – for economic reasons as well as for reasons of national security – that the United States re-manufacture these electronic parts that are present in many items of everyday life.
Demand for these chips skyrocketed during the pandemic, leading to shortages exacerbated by factory closures in China due to the resurgence of COVID-19. In this context, “Congress should pass this law as soon as possible,” the Democratic president said.
“It’s vital” that it be presented to the president for ratification “as early as this week,” his Commerce Minister Gina Raimondo added. “America’s dependence on a small number of factories overseas is dangerous,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also said.
Elected Republicans and Democrats agree with this conclusion, but have been trying for months to agree on a final text. The House of Representatives passed a broader text in February aimed at bolstering US industry in the face of competition from Asia, especially in the semiconductor sector. A similar bill was passed by the Senate in March. But the two assemblies of Congress did not agree on a common text. The Senate has recently begun work on a text limited solely to the issue of semiconductors called Chips more. Last week, he took an important procedural step.
Thus, more than a year after the adoption of the first version of the bill to increase competition with China in the field of semiconductors, the US Senate is considering a simplified version of the law. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called US semiconductor manufacturing a national security issue and a source of jobs. “The point is simple: if companies don’t find it profitable to make chips here in America, they’ll go somewhere else,” Schumer said as he opened the Senate last Monday.
A Reuters text recalls that in June 2021, the Senate approved a $250 billion bipartisan bill to increase spending on research and technology development, one of the first major pieces of legislation passed since Democrats assumed tight upper house control.
However, this was never taken up by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, which passed its own bill earlier this year with almost no Republican backing. The measure included provisions to support chip makers, as well as billions of dollars for other supply chains and the Republican-opposed Global Climate Change Initiative.
Semiconductors are widely used in everyday life. Produced mainly in Asia, they are needed, in particular, for the production of cars, smartphones and medical equipment. Because of the pandemic, manufacturers have seen these chip stocks melt to alarming levels.