The Biden administration might not have hit panic mode over the global microchip shortage, but there sure is a heightened sense of urgency — so much so, in fact, that White House officials are all but pleading for Congress to pass a $52 billion spending bill before Christmas to prop up the nation’s semiconductor industry and address a deepening crisis.
The bill, officially dubbed the CHIPS for America Act, would encourage domestic chip production and research, CNN Business reported. The U.S. Senate passed the bill over the summer, but the House hasn’t voted on it yet, and the White House is growing impatient for that to happen.
“We are imploring Congress to pass the CHIPS Act,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CNN. “It has to happen by Christmas. This cannot take months.”
She added, “This is a crisis now and it’s only going to get worse.”
Even if Congress approves the bill before Christmas, it will still take years to build and fully scale up new chip factories, CNN noted. Meanwhile, the global chip shortage — caused by supply chain disruptions that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 — continues to wreak havoc on the economy by contributing to rising inflation, worker layoffs and a slowdown in the production of everything from iPhones to cars.
“Hopefully by this time next year or maybe a little before, the short-term crunch will be better,” Raimondo said. “The long-term issue will take years to sort out. We just don’t make enough chips in America.”
Although the U.S. used to be a global leader in semiconductor production, that hasn’t been the case in a long time. Only 12% of the world’s computer chips were made in the U.S. last year, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association, down from 37% in 1990.
Some American companies have decided to take matters into their own hands. As GOBankingRates previously reported, Ford Motor recently announced plans to partner with chipmaker GlobalFoundries to boost chip supplies for its own vehicles, as well as the larger U.S. auto industry. The long-term goal is to expand chip production across the country so U.S. automakers are less reliant on third-party and foreign chip makers.
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