Senators push bipartisan bill to bolster domestic semiconductor production as shortages loom

Lawmakers make moves to bring semiconductor production back to the U.S.

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Friday that would incentivize U.S. suppliers and manufacturers to boost domestic semiconductor production.   

Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., along with Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., are taking on the chip shortage through the "Investing in Domestic Semiconductor Manufacturing Act."

"There is inconsistency in the delivery of semiconductors and chips," Blackburn, who sits on the Committee for Commerce, Science, and Transportation, told Fox News. "You have to be certain that your manufacturers can have a domestic ecosystem to do this manufacturing." 

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Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Blackburn said the bill would ensure that manufacturing companies not only receive incentives to bolster production but also the ability to do so through an educated workforce. 

U.S. reliance on foreign semiconductor manufacturing came to a head during the coronavirus pandemic when demand skyrocketed and supply chain channels stalled. 

Semiconductors are small chips that help conduct electricity in everything from smartphones and toasters to automobiles and satellites.  

Taiwan produces the vast majority of the world’s semiconductors. But with the threat of a Chinese takeover and the shipping crisis blocking access to supplies, lawmakers are increasingly concerned about reliable access to vital chips. 

"We stand with Taiwan," Blackburn told Fox News. "In addition, we realize we need to have a ready and consistent supply of chips."

chip semiconductor

In this photo illustration, a technician holds a central processor microchip known as a semiconductor over a circuit board. (Photo illustration by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The Tennessee Republican said getting access to semiconductors has become an issue of national security.

"You are going to see us looking more closely at supply chains and where different component parts are being manufactured," she added.

Lawmakers hope to get the bipartisan bill passed by the end of this year or in early 2022.

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While the legislation is expected to make it through the Senate, it remains unclear if the House will be as determined to move on boosting semiconductor production stateside. 

In June, the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which included a $52 billion fund to boost U.S. semiconductor production under the CHIPS for America Act.

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But the bill, which passed in the Senate by a 68-32 vote, has sat in the lower chamber ever since. 

"What this does is to put the attention on the chip shortage and the equipment that is necessary," Blackburn told Fox News. 

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Blackburn said that while the CHIPS Act is designed to assist with the supply chain crisis plaguing the semiconductor industry, the latest legislation would address manufacturing needs by encouraging companies to relocate to the U.S.

"It’s going to take it all," Blackburn said. "It’s going to take our bill, it’s going to take the CHIPS Act, it’s going to take a partnership at your local, state and federal level and a public and private partnership to move this manufacturing back."