White House pushes for chip funding as Intel loses patience

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It’s been more than a year since the Senate passed its bill to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing — but time is running out before the Congressional recess in August, the White House is doing all it can to ensure the funding goes through.

On Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo led a classified briefing with senators highlighting the importance of chip funding as a national security issue. If Congress couldn’t agree on the broader bill before its next recess, Raimondo urged it to pass the $52 billion in chip-making incentives itself.

“The message is, ‘time is up,'” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said. CNN after the briefing. “It is time to make it happen.

Passed as the United States Innovation and Competition Act (or USICA), the legislation includes more than $52 billion for companies making semiconductors in the United States. But despite broad bipartisan support for the measure, it failed to gain a vote in the House due to lingering concerns about how the bill would overhaul federal research and development grants.

The blocked funding was particularly urgent in Ohio, where Intel planned to spend $20 billion to build an ambitious new semiconductor foundry. Groundbreaking for the foundry was originally scheduled for July 22, but has been put on hold while funding remains in limbo.

In a washington post live interview earlier this week, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said the project would likely move to Europe if funding was not approved.

“We made it very clear to McConnell, to the Democrats, to the Republicans, that if this doesn’t pass, I will change my plans,” Gelsinger said. “The Europeans have moved forward very aggressively, and they are ready to give us the incentives that allow us to move forward.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also promised to block chip funding if Democrats decide to approve it as part of a larger reconciliation package that allows Medicare to negotiate prices with drugmakers. “There will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats pursue a partisan reconciliation bill,” McConnell said. tweeted last month.

Still, the tech industry has been unanimous in its support for the funding, which is expected to have a broad impact on the industry. In December, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook joined more than 50 other executives in a letter to the leadership of Congress support funding.

“As you know, semiconductors are essential to virtually every sector of the economy,” the executives wrote. “Unfortunately, demand for these critical components has outstripped supply, creating a global chip shortage and leading to loss of growth and jobs in the economy.”

On Thursday, Raimondo is expected to turn his attention to the House during another classified briefing on the bill. In an interview with Axios WednesdayRaimondo said lawmakers are “clustering around the path of [passing] CHIPS immediately, then live to fight another day on the rest.

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