Industry, unions urge Congress to speed semiconductor bills

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Congress must act quickly to bolster semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S., according to a letter from several trade groups and unions delivered to House and Senate leaders on Thursday.

“Strengthening the U.S. position in semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing is a national priority,” reads the letter, organized by the Semiconductor Industry Association.

“While the governments of our global competitors have invested heavily to attract new semiconductor manufacturing and research facilities, the absence of comparable U.S. incentives has made our country less competitive and America’s share of global semiconductor manufacturing has steadily declined as a result.”

The letter was delivered to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

It urges lawmakers to finance the Chips Act, which became law earlier this year as part of the 2021 defense bill. That legislation, which provides grants and incentives for semiconductor manufacturers to build fabrication facilities — or “fabs” — in the U.S., was never funded.

The Senate passed legislation earlier this year that would dedicate $52 billion to the initiative as part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which is designed to re-invigorate research and development initiatives in the U.S. in large part to help the country better compete with China.

The House is piecing together similar legislation as relevant committees advance legislation that aim to tackles similar issues as the Senate bill. But industry associations say Congress needs to move faster to address a pressing issue.

The coronavirus pandemic has put pressure on global supply chains, resulting in shortages in semiconductors across several industries, particularly the automobile industry, where backlogs have caused problems with inventory.

“To be competitive and strengthen the resilience of critical supply chains, we believe the U.S. needs to incentivize the construction of new and modernized semiconductor manufacturing facilities and invest in research capabilities,” the union and trade group leaders said in the letter. “The need is urgent and now is the time to act. We look forward to working with you on this national priority.”

In addition to the Semiconductor Industry Association, the letter was also signed by 19 other trade groups and unions, including the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, American Automotive Policy Council, Autos Drive America, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association and the UAW.

Audrey LaForest of Automotive News contributed to this report.

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