The US Senate is considering including in a new bill to boost competitiveness against China US$30 billion in funding for previously-approved measures to supercharge the country’s semiconductor industry, a congressional source said on Thursday.
Lawmakers aim to bring the package, which would include other elements to boost the US tech sector, to a full vote in April, the person said, declining to be named because the legislation has not been finalised.
The source, who is involved in the effort, said that the Schumer-led package is likely to have provisions curbing China’s access to US capital markets, a focus of the Trump administration’s crackdown on Beijing.
A spokesman for US Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, who is spearheading the new package, did not respond to a request for comment.
Schumer said last month he had directed lawmakers to craft a new bill to boost US competitiveness against China, based on legislation he and Republican Senator Todd Young proposed last year to provide funding of US$100 billion to spur research in key tech areas, from artificial intelligence to quantum computing and semiconductors.
Schumer’s office also said the package could be used as a vehicle to provide emergency funding for the bipartisan semiconductor programmes included in last year’s National Defense Authorisation Act, which are still awaiting money.
One of those unfunded programmes would provide grants to companies investing in US factories and equipment for semiconductor manufacturing, testing, and research and development. Another directs the government to establish a public-private partnership to form consortiums of firms to produce “measurably secure microelectronics”.
The semiconductor industry has also been pushing for an investment tax credit for spending on chip production tools, which can cost billions of dollars for new factories and typically far outstrip the cost of buildings.
The effort comes as US carmakers have slowed production on a global shortage of semiconductors, in high demand due to a consumer-driven boom in demand for smartphones and computers during the coronavirus pandemic.