Sanders slams Schumer plan to boost semiconductor industry
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday slammed a provision in Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) legislation to boost American competitiveness that would provide more than $52 billion to boost the semiconductor chip industry.
“No. As part of the Endless Frontiers bill we should not be handing out $53 billion in corporate welfare to some of the largest and most profitable corporations in the country with no strings attached,” Sanders, the Senate Budget Committee chairman, tweeted on Monday, referring to a centerpiece provision in the substitute amendment Schumer unveiled on the floor last week.
Schumer last week hailed the money in the substitute amendment he filed as “a very big deal.”
He said it would “make sure the United States stays on the cutting edge for chip production, semiconductor chip production, which is essential for this country’s economy, including our auto industry, our tech industry and our military.”
Schumer said the funding would “boost domestic production and shore up critical supply chains.”
In his tweet Monday, Sanders acknowledged that “Congress should work to expand U.S. microchip production,” but he didn’t detail what his preferred path would be.
Schumer has pointed to the economic impact of a global semiconductor shortage to argue his case.
Major automobile manufacturers General Motors and Ford cut production at North American plants last month because of the shortage.
GM has estimated the shortage will reduce its operating profits from $2 billion to $1.5 billion this year.
Schumer says Congress needs to act to shore up a major vulnerability in the domestic economy.
“We have all heard about auto plants in our states that are closed or operating at reduced capacity because they can’t get the chips. The shortage in our tech industry also shows how vulnerable our supply chains are,” he said on the floor. “We simply cannot rely on foreign processors for chips.”
“This amendment will make sure we don’t have to,” he said of the substitute amendment. “America invented the semiconductor chip.”
Schumer has also pointed to estimates that without federal aid, American-made semiconductors could shrink to only 6 percent of the market.
“We’re still at the cutting edge of research, but fewer than 12 percent of them are made in American and if this bill doesn’t pass, it will go down to six,” he said.
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