‘This is Infrastructure’: Momentum and Urgency Build for Federal Investments in Chip Manufacturing and Research

By John Neuffer, SIA President and CEO

On April 12 at the White House, with top CEOs from the semiconductor, automotive, and other sectors joining via teleconference to discuss the ongoing global chip shortage and securing our supply chains, President Biden held up a silicon wafer bristling with semiconductors and said, “This is infrastructure.”

The President went on to underscore the importance of strengthening America’s supply chain for semiconductors, the chips at the heart of our economy, national security, digital infrastructure, and global leadership in the technologies of today and tomorrow. He also urged support for his recently announced infrastructure plan, which calls for $50 billion in federal investments to advance domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research.

The semiconductor investments in President Biden’s infrastructure plan are properly ambitious and reflect the urgent need to strengthen America’s semiconductor supply chains and ensure more of the chips our country needs are manufactured and researched on U.S. shores. To keep America on top in this essential technology, leaders in Washington must take swift and decisive action to enact these bold investments.

The White House chip summit headlined an eventful two weeks of activity related to sharpening America’s edge in semiconductors:

  1. A bipartisan, bicameral group of dozens of members of Congress sent a letter to President Biden in support of funding the semiconductor manufacturing and research provisions called for by the CHIPS for America Act. That legislation was enacted, but not funded, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year. “Ensuring these provisions are fully funded,” the letter stated, “would support thousands of American jobs and create a ripple effect throughout the economy, benefiting countless industries, communities and working families.
  2. Bipartisan legislation was introduced in Congress that seeks to maintain and build on U.S. scientific and technology leadership – including in semiconductors – by restructuring the National Science Foundation and authorizing more than $100 billion to science and technology initiatives. The bill, called the Endless Frontier Act, was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) and a bipartisan group of cosponsors.
  3. Several of America’s most experienced and respected leaders on national security issues wrote to President Biden in support of funding the CHIPS for America act and enacting the Endless Frontier Act, among other priorities.

“Who leads in future technology developments, standards, and the means of secure production and supply will be the true decider of the type of world we build with our allies and partners,” the defense leaders wrote. “The strategic funding plan put forward today will create a great economic return and improved resilience for generations.”

Amid an often-challenging political and policy landscape, all these actions had an ever-so-welcome common thread of bipartisanship, with leaders from across the political spectrum issuing a clarion call to seize the opportunity to strengthen U.S. leadership in a technology that is foundational to America’s strength, and its future. As President Biden stated at the White House chip summit, “we have to step up our game.”

x Brown