WASHINGTON – The Biden administration and congressional Democrats have warned of dire consequences for the economy and for national security if Congress fails to pass a bill by the end of July designed to improve semiconductor manufacturing in the United States. United States.
Their appeals grew increasingly urgent as Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell threatened to block legislation on computer chips, creating a standoff that threatened to derail one of the most bipartisan initiatives. in Congress. Republicans have tied their cooperation with Democrats who have not pursued a separate package of energy and economic initiatives that GOP lawmakers have warned would increase taxes on small businesses and hurt the economy. This is a request that Democrats be thrown out of hand.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said computer chipmakers were offered substantial revenue incentives from other countries such as South Korea, Japan, France, Germany and Singapore to find plants there. He cited Monday’s announcement by STMicroelectronics and GlobalFoundries to set up a semiconductor factory in France as an example of other countries moving faster than the US on the issue.
“The bottom line is there are very real, very damaging consequences if Congress doesn’t do its job in the month of July,” Raimondo told The Associated Press.
Those consequences mean not only lost job opportunities for the U.S., but an over -reliance on other countries for semiconductors that could be a critical weakness because they are so critical for products. from cars and cellphones to modern weapon systems.
Raimondo will be part of a closed-door briefing with senators on Wednesday to discuss the national security implications of the semiconductor law. Scheduled to join him are Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.
Raimondo and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, in a letter to congressional leaders, said semiconductor companies need to get “concrete on the ground” this fall to meet increased demand. Cabinet members said their assessment that further delays in the passage of the legislation “will result in a semiconductor investment deficit that we can no longer recover.”
Both houses of Congress passed bills that included about $ 52 billion in financial support for the U.S. semiconductor industry, but they struggled to consolidate the legislation into a final compromise that would get 60 votes in the Senate. , the amount required to overcome procedural obstacles.
McConnell, R-Ky., On Tuesday suggested that the House could just get the version passed by the Senate, which would allow it to move to President Joe Biden’s table to sign into law. Or the two chambers could just take a more narrow bill that focuses on semiconductor incentives, with no trade provisions and new research priorities.
Both options face major hurdles. An aide to the House Democratic leadership said the Senate bill had many fundamental problems to get the required 218 House votes. Meanwhile, senators from both parties are wary of settling $ 52 billion in financial incentives after working for years on other legislative priorities.
“As long as we’re still working so hard. Why would we cut that?” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. “If it’s about real competition, why would we say we just want to be a little more competitive.”
Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said he could support legislation that focuses only on financial incentives, “but it has problems with other members of the conference” insisting on additional provisions.
Democrats exceeded their goal of reaching agreement on the principles of the final bill by the end of June so staff could prepare the text and both chambers could vote in July. Raimondo said he spoke to several Republicans about reducing differences between the House and Senate before McConnell tweeted about the bill, known by the acronym USICA, for the United States Innovation and Competition Act: ” Let me be perfectly clear: there is no bipartisan. USICA as long as the Democrats continue with a partisan reconciliation bill. “
“Apparently, Senator McConnell’s tweet was a couple that on Friday slowed down work,” Raimondo said.
However, he said he was considering the “5-yard line” bill and that negotiations could be completed within a week to 10 days if the two parties cooperate. He said that if lawmakers can’t complete the bill, “it’s not Republicans who will win. China will win if it doesn’t pass.”
Raimondo tried to appeal to lawmakers ’concerns about how the U.S. relies on foreign countries, namely Taiwan, for making advanced computer chips.
“Look, I mean, I know a lot about these Republicans. They’re patriotic. They want to do what’s right for America. On,” Raimondo said.
Si Sen. Thom Tillis, RN.C., was one of the Republicans who voted for the Senate version of the semiconductor legislation. Before he makes a decision on a final compromise bill, he wants to see the price tag of the separate energy and economic package being pursued by Democrats through a process called reconciliation, which will allow them to passing a bill without Republican support.
Tillis also didn’t buy into the warning that lawmakers must pass a semiconductor bill this month or it won’t happen.
“It’s not the only car that can ride on chips before the end of the year,” Tillis said.