By Alexandra Alper
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden met with executives of chipmakers including Samsung, Micron and other companies on Wednesday as part of an effort to push the U.S. Congress to fund $52 billion in grants to chipmakers to ease the semiconductor crunch.
Biden, along with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, hosted the event with Dr. Siyoung Choi, president of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd’s Device Division, joining remotely, and Sanjay Mehrota, president and chief executive of Micron Technology Inc, to highlight the need for speedy action to increase the supply of scarce chips.
Legislation on the issue has been stalled in Congress, although a Senate aide told Reuters on Wednesday that Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, the leader of Senate Republicans, are negotiating a process to begin a conference on the bill during this work period.
“Today I’m urging the House and the Senate to work out the differences between … the two version of this bill. Get it to my desk as quickly as you can,” Biden said on Wednesday.
The House of Representatives on Feb. 4 narrowly passed a bill aimed at increasing American competitiveness with China in part by allocating $52 billion to boost U.S. semiconductor manufacturing.
In June the Senate voted 68-32 to pass its own bill, which includes $52 billion for chips and authorizes $190 billion for U.S. technology and research to compete with China.
The funding includes $2 billion to incentivize production of “mature node” semiconductors used by the auto industry and in medical devices, agricultural machinery and some national defense applications.
A persistent industry-wide shortage of chips has disrupted production in the automotive and electronics industries, forcing some firms to scale back production.
But progress has been scant towards hashing out differences in the two pieces of legislation. A bipartisan group of more than 140 U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday urged leaders in Congress to move forward on the funding.
Other participants in Wednesday’s meeting included governors Eric Holcomb of Indiana and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan as well as White House economic advisor Brian Deese.
Executives from Whirlpool, HP, Medtronic, and Cummins also took part.
(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; additional reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Jeff Mason and Sandra Maler)