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U.S. Senate readying legislation on semiconductors, Biden says

04/07/2021 | 05:29pm EDT
President Biden speaks about jobs and the economy from the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Senate leaders are preparing to introduce legislation on semiconductors, President Joe Biden said on Wednesday as the nation wrestles with an ongoing shortage of the critical technology used in a range of devices from cars to computers.

"We're working on that. (Senate Majority Leader) Chuck Schumer and, I think, (Senate Republican Leader Mitch) McConnell are about to introduce a bill along those lines," Biden said during remarks about his own plan to boost the nation's infrastructure.

Schumer and McConnell's offices did not immediately comment.

The White House is set to hold a virtual summit on the issue on Monday that is expected to include senior U.S. auto executives, including Ford Motor Co Chief Executive Jim Farley and General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra, and White House officials Brian Deese and Jake Sullivan, officials said.

On Monday, a U.S. auto industry group urged the government to help as it warned that the global semiconductor shortage could result in 1.28 million fewer vehicles built this year and disrupt production for another six months. It called for setting aside some money for automotive chip production.

Biden in February ordered several federal agency actions to address the chip crisis, and is seeking $37 billion in funding for legislation to supercharge chip manufacturing in the United States.

Automakers have been hit particularly hard by the global chip shortage after many canceled orders when auto plants were idled during the coronavirus pandemic.

Broadband internet, cellphone and cable TV companies urged the White House to remain technology-neutral in addressing chip issues.

Industry group NCTA - The Internet & Television Association said in comments to the Commerce Department this week that providers are facing chip delays resulting in delays delivering some cable TV boxes as well delays in receiving "network switches, routers, and servers. ... Shortages in semiconductors and the associated delays will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in impact to the broadband and cable television industry this year."

Aircraft maker Boeing Co said in comments filed with the Commerce Department that "the primary risk to the semiconductor supply chain is the lack of critical domestic manufacturing capability."

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, David Shepardson and Doina Chiacu; writing by Susan Heavey; editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

By David Shepardson and Jeff Mason

© Reuters 2021
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