Business leaders call on Congress to pass CHIPS Act
Microchips are needed in everything from cars to smart phones. During the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers couldn’t get the chips they needed to produce their products, causing factory shutdowns, delays and increased costs for consumers. Currently, the United States produces only 12% of the world’s semiconductors, which is down from 37% in 1990. As we have seen throughout the pandemic, global supply lines are easily disrupted, and semiconductor shortages can have potentially serious effects on our economy.
To address the issues that arose out of the chip shortage during the pandemic, Congress last year authorized $52 billion for semiconductor research, development and manufacturing in the United States through the Creating Helpful Incentives for the Production of Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act.
The importance of quickly providing the funding authorized in that law should have made the CHIPS Act a priority for Congress in January of 2022, when Intel announced plans to establish a $20 billion semi-conductor manufacturing facility in Licking County, Ohio. This investment will bring thousands of direct and indirect jobs to the United States, not to mention serve as a focal point for attracting businesses up and down the supply chain.
However, since the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the legislation in February of 2022, the bill has languished in the conference committee process in negotiations between the two houses. Over the last few months, the legislation has been caught up in partisan fights over parts of the bill having nothing to do with microchips. However, recent news reports suggest that Congressional leaders are willing to consider passing a standalone bill with the CHIPS Act, alongside a related incentive to bolster the establishment of semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the United States.
I am calling on Members of the U.S. House and Senate to stop using the Creating Helpful Incentives for the Production of Semiconductors for America Act as leverage for other initiatives and pass the CHIPS Act. Time is of the essence, as Intel has also recently announced a major investment in Germany and could potentially shift its focus away from American manufacturing to overseas facilities.
Several other chipmakers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC), currently the world’s largest contract manufacturer of semiconductors, and GlobalWafers, a Taiwanese company, have also expressed interest in onshoring their production capabilities to the United States, but are reluctant to make firm commitments until the CHIPS Act passes.
Ensuring the swift passage of the CHIPS Act will bolster American manufacturing, create thousands of American jobs and help re-establish America’s position as a leader in next-generation innovation. We cannot cede our technological future by relying on foreign sources of these critical components; we need to make it a priority to produce these chips here at home.
Steve Stivers is the president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, based in Columbus.