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White House Says Biden Planning Order on Semiconductor Shortage

Feb. 12, 2021
In a letter, the Semiconductor Industry Association urged Biden to include incentives for building up domestic microchip production.

In statements to the media February 11, President Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the White House intends to sign an executive order to try and help improve U.S. automaker’s access to semiconductors, which have been in short supply.

The order, which Psaki said Biden would sign “in the coming weeks,” will identify “immediate actions” to spur domestic production of critical goods and “working with allies to develop a coordinate response to the weaknesses and bottlenecks.”

In a response to a question on if the order would include specific measures incentivizing the construction of new semiconductor plants in the United States, Psaki demurred and said more details would be available when the order is actually signed.

“As is true with many policies, we want to take a comprehensive look at the most effective steps we can take as an administration, across agencies that will have a role to play, to address what has been a longstanding challenge, which is the shortage. So that’s what it’s a reflection of,” she said.

Also on February 11, a group of technology CEOs, members of the Semiconductor Industry Association, sent President Biden a letter urging him to include tax credits or grants in his “Build Back Better” plan, noting that a 2021 defense bill included a measure authorizing federal incentives for semiconductor manufacturing.

“The costs of inaction are high,” read the letter, which was co-signed by Bob Swan, CEO of Intel; Lisa Su, CEO of AMD; Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm; and Richard Templeton, CEO of Texas Instruments, among others.

In response to a question referencing the letter, Psaki indicated that meetings with business leaders to determine the contents of the bill were ongoing, although the President had yet to meet with any executives from the semiconductor manufacturing industry. “He will continue to consult with business leaders, as will senior members of our administration, about their ideas of what they’d like to see in that agenda,” she said. “So those discussions and engagements are ongoing.” 

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