President Biden and Senator Schumer ready semiconductor supply chain initiatives

Majority Leader primes pump for $100 billion in science and technology funding

chip on fire

The US's top democrat signaled a funding commitment to bolster critical areas of the country's tech economy yesterday while the President moved closer to signing an executive order addressing the semiconductor supply chain issues.

During a weekly press conference, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for a legislative package to strengthen domestic competitiveness in areas ranging from AI to semiconductors. The legislation would include emergency funding for semiconductor programs initially announced in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Schumer based his latest proposal on the Endless Frontiers Act legislation he introduced last year that promised $100 billion to reinvent the National Science Foundation (NSF). That bill would have directed funding to university-based technology research centers pursuing fundamental research across 10 disciplines and channeled $10 billion through the Department of Commerce to regional technology hubs.

On Tuesday, Senator Schumer told reporters he’d directed committees to work on the package and hopes to have a bill ready by the spring.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) responded positively to Schumer's announcement.

"The key to winning the global competition for leadership in the game-changing technologies of the future is to turbocharge US innovation," it said. "To help accomplish that goal, we urge the Biden administration and Congress to invest boldly in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research. Doing so will help keep the United States on top in this foundational technology, while also strengthening America’s economy, job creation, national security, and critical infrastructure.”

Last week, the SIA joined a coalition of 16 business groups in urging the President to fund the NDAA's semiconductor manufacturing and research measures. The group also asked for an investment tax credit to help build more domestic semiconductor fabs.

Reports also suggested President Biden will sign an executive order addressing the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage this month, possibly as early as today. Press secretary Jen Psaki flagged that order earlier this month, promising it within weeks. It would explore actions such as improving domestic physical chip production and working with allies to develop a coordinated response to supply chain bottlenecks, Psaki said.

The impending executive order would order 100-day reviews of supply chains across four sets of products, including computer chips and large-capacity batteries, reported The Verge, which expected the order to be signed today.

Hopefully, a federal intervention will help address supply chain issues that have plagued automotive companies in the US with semiconductor shortages and forced several to shut plants. Worsening the problem was this month's winter storm that forced semiconductor companies to halt production.

The president's election campaign pushed hard on domestic tech, promising a $300 billion investment in US-made materials, services, research, and technology.

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