White House to Convene Companies on Chips Amid Delta Disruptions
(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration plans to convene another meeting with companies in the semiconductor supply chain next week as the worldwide spread of the Covid-19 delta variant increasingly causes disruptions and production delays.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who has been President Joe Biden’s point person on the effort, and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese will be leading the Sept. 23 discussion at the White House, according to a senior administration official.
The attendee list hasn’t been finalized but companies invited will include chipmakers as well as companies that use them to manufacture products including autos, consumer electronics and medical devices.
The meeting’s goal is to further enhance transparency and continue efforts to engage with allies, the official said. The administration plans to tell companies that the government needs their help to alleviate the bottlenecks that have persisted for months, the official said.
The global shortage of microprocessor chips that power everything from laptops to automobiles has continued to affect the production in many sectors, and finding medium- and long-term solutions has been a priority since Biden office.
While the administration has been focused on bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., officials have also acknowledged that production has to be diversified and complemented through efforts in allied countries.
The meeting will be the third of its kind Raimondo is hosting. In April, Biden joined discussions with chief executive officers about the shortage and possible remedies.
The convening comes as there’s no clear path forward in Congress for $52 billion in funding for domestic semiconductor research and manufacturing. That money, which is part of a broader China competition bill, was approved by the Senate in June but has since stalled in the House.
Raimondo, the White House office of legislative affairs, as well as members of the National Security Council and National Economic Council have met recently with House and Senate leadership and continue to work with relevant committees to align on a path forward on the funding and competitiveness bill, the official said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that moving the legislation forward is “a priority and part of the discussion that senior members of the White House have with leaders in Congress as we talk about what we want to get done in the coming months.”
As part of the coming meeting, the Commerce Department will create a formal process to increase transparency through surveys that would seek information from companies along the supply chain. Raimondo has been focused on increasing information sharing among the industries, but the effort has been met with some reluctance from those that don’t want the government involved in supply-and-demand issues.
The supply crunch featured on a recent trip Vice President Kamala Harris made to Singapore and Vietnam. The White House has been working with countries including Malaysia and Vietnam that are home to semiconductor manufacturing capacity and have struggled with Covid-19 outbreaks, ensuring that the nations can safely continue operations at reduced capacity.
The semiconductor industry is also pushing for a separate measure that would provide tax credits to companies that invest in semiconductor fabs, as they are known, in the U.S. The White House has not said whether it supports the bill or is pushing for it to move as part of other legislative vehicles.
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