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February 22, 2022 12:51 PM, EST

US House, Senate Negotiate Semiconductor Production Bill

Chip FactoryAn Infineon Technologies AG chip factory in Villach, Austria. Key members of Congress have argued for legislation that would ease the country’s reliance on overseas suppliers for critical technology equipment. (Akos Stiller/Bloomberg News)

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Legislation that would dedicate $52 billion to boost the country’s role as a semiconductor manufacturer amid a supply chain crisis is expected to be a main item on Congress’ agenda over the coming weeks.

The legislation has gained bipartisan backing in the U.S. House and Senate, and congressional leaders have signaled the potential for crafting a final version of the bill in the near term.



The leaders point to the bills’ aim of enhancing the country’s economic competitiveness.

"This was a giant step forward,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) this month, in reference to the bill’s passage. “Now, we have to go to conference with the Senate and we will, shortly. We’ll send it to the president’s desk. But what that does is it addresses the supply chain shortages that we have, and therefore will decrease inflation.”

Chuck Schumer

Schumer

Added Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), “Two things Americans are demanding are lower costs and bringing jobs back from overseas, and a strong competitiveness bill will deliver on both.”

He insisted the bill would alleviate supply chain woes. “Congress is now one step closer to delivering big, bold, bipartisan action to boost American jobs and American microchip manufacturing and strengthening supply chains so we can compete with countries across the globe, like China, lower costs for American families and invest in our future.”

Last year, the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, or USICA. The House recently approved similar legislation. Negotiations on Capitol Hill, referred to as conferencing, are taking place amid a semiconductor shortage credited with contributing to inflation.

Key members of Congress have argued for legislation that would ease the country’s reliance on overseas suppliers for critical technology equipment. “It’s beyond time for the U.S. to place itself on a path to compete at a global level in the modern era, and that includes creating long-term economic growth and quality jobs for the American people,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

President Joe Biden has expressed support for the bill and members of his Cabinet have championed negotiations on Capitol Hill. “This bill was built on numerous bipartisan elements and on shared bipartisan agreement on the need to act,” he said earlier this month.

“I look forward to the House and Senate quickly coming together to find a path forward and putting a bill on my desk as soon as possible for my signature. America can’t afford to wait,” Biden affirmed.

The House-passed bill would allocate $52 billion in subsidies primarily through grants meant to facilitate development of semiconductor factories. Also in the House bill is the text of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), senior members of the Commerce Committee, recently introduced their version of the act. Their bill is designed to update the regulatory landscape across the global shipping industry by taking aim at the Federal Maritime Commission.

READ MORE: US Senators Introduce Supply Chain Bill Amid Funding Negotiations

Several stakeholders, calling on Congress to respond to the supply chain crisis, endorsed the legislation. “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will provide real, long-term solutions for the myriad issues congesting U.S. ports and slowing U.S. dairy exports,” said Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. “The bill places disciplines on ocean carriers’ ability to decline export cargo and when demurrage can be charged, helping to get U.S. dairy exports on the water in a timelier manner. It also strengthens the oversight authority of the Federal Maritime Commission over ocean carriers, the majority of which are foreign owned.”

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