Congress launches final negotiations on supply chain and semiconductor bill

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Congressional policymakers have officially launched negotiations on comprehensive legislation to facilitate domestic semiconductor production and improve the movement of cargo through ports.

Lawmakers engaged in negotiations met on May 12 to finalize freight-centric legislation. At issue are provisions contained in bills passed by the House and Senate authorizing more than $50 billion for semiconductor chips.

These measures include the US Innovation and Competition Act, or USICA, which would specifically seek to improve Department of Energy programs. Certain aspects of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act are expected to be approved during negotiations. This bill targets the Federal Maritime Commission by requiring carriers to submit certain reports to the commission on a quarterly basis. It would also pave the way for the registration of maritime trade.

Congressional negotiations are called conference committee meetings. A final legislative version is expected in the coming weeks.

“Every member of this conference committee should recognize the urgency of strengthening our supply chains, boosting American manufacturing, and unleashing the next generation of technological innovation,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) , Chair of the Commerce Committee, which is responsible for arranging the final bill.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger at the dedication of two chip factories at the company’s Ocotillo campus in Chandler, Ariz., in September 2021. (Intel Corp.)

“There is no time to waste and I look forward to showing the American people that we can get this important legislation in place as soon as possible,” Cantwell added.

Parliamentary leaders involved in the negotiations expressed a sense of urgency. “Our bills have been crafted from the ground up with rigorous input from the scientific community on what they need most to succeed in the 21st century. They will strengthen our country’s competitiveness and reaffirm our global leadership in innovation and technology,” said Science, Space and Technology Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas).

Republicans participating in the negotiations have indicated that they will seek to promote domestic oil production.

At the White House, President Joe Biden and his top executives applauded congressional efforts to commit about $50 billion in new funds to semiconductor manufacturing. “A significant disruption to our semiconductor supply could cause historic damage to the U.S. economy, far greater damage than the impact chip shortages are having on the U.S. auto industry right now, and would undermine our technological competitiveness. and our military advantages over our adversaries globally,” according to the White House background. “The House and Senate each passed bills to make historic investments in research, domestic manufacturing and America’s ability to manufacture semiconductors.”

Last month, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urged senators to finalize the freight package. “I cannot say strongly enough the urgency with which we must act. Other countries are not waiting for us,” the secretary told senators. “China has invested $150 billion. Germany, Singapore, Spain, France are all investing.

Industry stakeholders have also called on Congress to finalize the semiconductor-focused, supply chain-centric bill. “American companies in all sectors of the economy are facing a shortage of semiconductors, and the only way to alleviate the current imbalance between supply and demand over the long term is to increase manufacturing capacity. “, Intel Corp. CEO Pat Gelsinger recently told the Senate Commerce Committee.

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