Calling semiconductors “the building blocks for the modern economy,” President Joe Biden on Monday asked Congress to move quickly and send him a bipartisan bill designed to boost the computer chips industry and high-tech research in the United States.
The Senate was originally expected to take a critical vote in the evening to advance the legislation, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced that storms on the East Coast had disrupted travel plans for several senators and that he would be delaying the vote until Tuesday morning. The bill needs support from at least 60 senators to clear procedural hurdles and place it on a path to final passage later this week, giving Biden a signature win on legislation his administration says is necessary to protect national security and help the U.S. better compete with China.
The bill provides about $52 billion in grants and other incentives for the semiconductor industry as well as a 25% tax credit for those companies that build chip plants in the U.S. Supporters say those incentives are necessary to compete with other nations that are also spending billions of dollars to lure manufacturers.
The pandemic has underscored how much the United States relies on semiconductor manufacturers abroad to provide the chips used in automobiles, computers, appliances and weapons systems. The Biden administration has been warning lawmakers they need to act before leaving for their August recess to ensure the companies invest in U.S. fabs instead of building the plants elsewhere.
Biden, who is still recovering from COVID-19, held a virtual roundtable with members of his administration and industry leaders about the merits of the bill. He said that a shortage of semiconductors was the primary driver of rising automobile costs, which are a core component of the inflation gripping the country.
Biden said the U.S. relies on Taiwan for the production of the most advanced chips and that China was also starting to move ahead of the U.S. on the manufacturing of such chips.
“America invented the semiconductor. It’s time to bring it home,” Biden said.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told him that chip manufacturers are…