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Congress Must Reach Agreement on the Bipartisan Innovation Act

As President Biden meets with U.S. business leaders about the importance of keeping the U.S. competitive, ITI echoes the president’s call for the U.S. Congress to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act. This legislation would strengthen U.S. technological leadership and fortify the U.S. economy by increasing manufacturing in America, strengthening supply chains, and addressing bottlenecks in key areas like semiconductors.

The Bipartisan Innovation Act is integral to the United States’ future economic success and competitiveness in the global marketplace. That’s why it is so important for the U.S. Congress to reach an agreement on the historic competitiveness bills that have cleared both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate – the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act.

As ITI outlined in a recent letter to Congressional leadership, these bills will maintain and expand the United States’ leadership in the technology industry, creating new investment in communities across the country. First and foremost, the bills will supercharge domestic semiconductor manufacturing, research, and design through funding for the Creating Helpful Incentives for the Production of Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act. This will help ensure companies can produce, design, and rely upon semiconductors to innovate, manufacture, and provide products and services to American consumers, businesses, and the U.S. government.

Semiconductors are essential for everything from 5G and artificial intelligence to automobiles and smart appliances, underpinning critical services like distance learning, telework, and healthcare delivery. By investing in the CHIPS Act, the United States will address a critical imperative for its national security and economic well-being. Congress should also pass a permanent investment tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing, design, and research. Another key technology area these bills would support is Open RAN, through the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, which provides a down payment towards developing next-generation mobile broadband technologies.

Congress has further shown an increased commitment in both the House and Senate bills to tech-focused research and development and manufacturing at agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy National Labs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Manufacturing USA program. These elements of the Congressional competitiveness bills are critical for expanding America’s technology leadership and strengthening its national innovation ecosystem. Translating new research into commercialized technology will mean high-tech jobs and new firms around the country, ensuring that the benefits of these investments are broadly shared across the United States.

The Biden Administration is also appropriately focused on the supply chain challenges currently dragging down the economy and leading to inflationary pressure. Creating a new Supply Chain Resilience and Crisis Response Office at the Department of Commerce and investing in a new Supply Chain Resilience Fund, as the America COMPETES Act would do, will build upon these ongoing efforts in the administration. Government and industry must work together to achieve the trusted, secure, and reliable global supply chains that are essential for protecting national security and promoting an indispensable foundation for supporting innovation and economic growth.

To ensure America has the workforce to support and capitalize on these efforts, the competitiveness bills invest in STEM education and workforce development, another critical element to enhance U.S. competitiveness. Programs that improve access to educational opportunities in STEM and computer science and enhance the capacity of Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are essential to train the next generation of workers, especially those from traditionally underrepresented populations, for future proof jobs in the technology sector. Further, investments in earn and learn programs like apprenticeships will help fill existing opportunity gaps and provide new pathways for Americans to find fulfilling, good-paying careers.

There are some provisions in the America COMPETES Act, however, that the technology industry believes will undermine the goal of enhancing U.S. competitiveness and easing supply chain challenges. Of primary concern is the new outbound investment review process which would hinder U.S. businesses’ ability to grow and expand into global markets. In addition, creating new restrictions on the use of the de minimis threshold would exacerbate supply chain disruptions at U.S. ports of entry and impose significant costs on U.S. workers, consumers, and small businesses. We have further concerns about a new export control for e-waste, which will ultimately cripple key environmental and circular economy goals. We believe these provisions can and should be removed as the House and Senate develop a final agreement.

Congress should seize this moment to reach a bicameral agreement on a Bipartisan Innovation Act to send to the president’s desk and make clear the U.S. will use its technological prowess to compete for generations to come.

Public Policy Tags: Federal Advocacy, Supply Chain