The administration of President Joe Biden is putting pressure on Congress to pass funding for the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act which would enhance U.S. semiconductor chip production.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo sent a letter to Congressional leadership July 13 asking to finally reconcile the Bipartisan Innovation Act which approves $52 billion in funding for the CHIPS Act passed in early 2021.
"Our economic and national security depends on our ability to invest in the technologies of today and tomorrow," the letter said. "U.S. leadership in technology and innovation has long underpinned U.S. economic prosperity and military strength but must not be taken for granted. For the first time we face a strategic competitor in China that is both determined to become the global leader in the industries of the future and has the means and resources to do so if we are not on our game."
The pair said in the letter that the CHIPS funding bill "is the only way to reduce our reliance on foreign-produced semiconductors. This funding is critical for our national security, will advance domestic supply, create good-paying jobs, and will catalyze billions more in private investment."
In May, Biden also pushed for the funding bill to be passed in the wake of the shortage of semiconductor chip supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I just told you about those computer chips and Intel that's going to make them here in Ohio. Well, America invented those chips. We invented them. Nobody else," Biden said in May. "They helped power the NASA mission to the Moon. They gave us a military edge in the Cold War. And the federal investment from NASA and the military that kept fledging the chip industry alive brought down the cost of making them, built a market, ushered in a new digital age. But then we stopped investing in ourselves. These chips are now predominately made overseas. We learned a hard lesson during the pandemic."
Officials warn that further delays in passing funding for the CHIPS Act could make things worse for industries that depend on the chips to make weapons systems like those deployed in Ukraine to battle the Russian invasion in February, The Hill reported.
Martijn Rasser, a senior fellow and director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security told The Hill that semiconductor chip shortages have been a "longstanding" issue for the Pentagon.
"I think particularly for the department, it's challenging because on one side, they rely on some very specific cutting-edge chips that are not commonly made," Rasser told the news outlet. "But then they also have a heavy reliance on legacy chips. So, things those commercial enterprises don't really continue to invest in just because it's older technology."
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