Congressional Leaders to Finalize Semiconductor, Supply Chain Bill

Intel CEO :Pat Gelsinger
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is shown during groundbreaking on two chip factories at the company's Ocotillo campus in Chandler, Ariz., in September 2021. (Intel Corp.)

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WASHINGTON — Legislation meant to boost domestic manufacturing of semiconductors and alleviate supply chain bottlenecks at the ports appears to be headed toward completion on Capitol Hill.

Congressional leaders are readying formal bicameral negotiations to arrive at a final version of a bill likely to propose more than $50 billion for production of semiconductor chips, as well as enacting reforms to freight operations at the ports.

The Senate and the House recently have passed similar versions of their supply chain-centric measures.



“Our bill … brings American manufacturing back to our shores,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said April 6. “In the spirit of patriotism and unity, the House will champion these priorities. We go to conference to craft a bold, bipartisan, bicameral package to send to the president’s desk. I hope that we will have the opportunity to go to conference soon.”

High-level legislative negotiations in Congress are often referred to as engaging in “conference.”

Pelosi’s team and her counterparts in the Senate aim to finalize the legislative package shortly after the congressional Easter recess. At issue are provisions that would fund domestic production of semiconductors, provide workforce training and facilitate access to goods across freight corridors. Due to supply chain bottlenecks, access to semiconductor chips has been limited. The chips are key products for electronics and commercial transportation equipment.


Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.)

Also expected in the final legislative package are provisions related to the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. Sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), their bill targets the Federal Maritime Commission by requiring carriers to issue certain reports to the commission each quarter. It also would pave the way for the registration of shipping exchanges.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) is among Hill leaders calling on colleagues to wrap up negotiations on the comprehensive package. “We’re saying that American farmers matter and their survival matters more than the exorbitant profit of international shipping companies,” Cantwell said recently.



“American exporters and their products are being left on the docks,” she added, “and that’s why we wanted to act quickly, because the American farmer, with growing season upon us, can’t afford to wait another minute for the Federal Maritime Commission to do its job and help police this market and make sure our products and farmers are not being overcharged or left on the dock.”

American Trucking Associations is among the stakeholders touting the shipping measure.

“For too long, foreign-owned ocean carriers have been fleecing American truckers and consumers to the tune of billions of dollars,” ATA President Chris Spear said. “These malign business practices have allowed foreign companies to reap record profits while slowing the movement of freight through the U.S. supply chain.”



“We thank Sens. Klobuchar and Thune for their bipartisan leadership, and we urge House and Senate negotiators to quickly reconcile their versions of this critical legislation so that the president can sign it into law,” Spear said.

“Ensuring fair practices at our ports is critical to ensuring goods get from docks to warehouses and store shelves,” added Jon Eisen, director of ATA’s Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference. “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is a badly needed step to modernize the law governing ocean freight and help restore a fair marketplace for motor carriers servicing our ports.”

The White House, meanwhile, is urging policymakers to finalize the legislative package. President Joe Biden and Cabinet-level officials have met with members of Congress to express their support. “These investments in semiconductors are crucial and must be complemented by investment in other advanced technologies as well, including the research and development leading to the next generation of these technologies, and related workforce development,” according to a summary prepared by White House officials of a recent congressional briefing about the measure. “These investments are critical to making our economy stronger and more resilient, and to protect our national security.”

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