Republicans say Biden’s rules for firms competing with China on chips make the US less competitive

Republican senators proposed Thursday against the Commerce Department because companies seeking new funding to compete with China in semiconductor manufacturing also meet independent benchmarks for childcare provision and union reserves.

The senators said the initiatives had nothing to do with beating China and could oust some US manufacturers the government should be promoting.

Led by Montana Sen. Steve Daines, lawmakers said the administration’s moves also contradict the intent of Congress last year when it passed legislation allocating $50 billion to the Commerce Department to revitalize the US semiconductor industry.

“We strongly oppose regulations your department enacts that use this legislation and the funds it provides as a tool to pursue controversial policies that go beyond what is required by law and reduce American jobs and high-tech investment in the United States process ‘ Republicans wrote in a letter urging Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to reverse course and crush the new rules.

The Washington Times was the first to receive a copy of the letter.

The Department of Commerce made an initial pool of funds available in late February and announced the principles by which it will judge applicants. It said it will evaluate companies on whether they will specifically recruit women to build facilities, whether they will provide housing assistance or adult care services, and whether they will use project employment contract reserves.

Applicants are also being urged to offer childcare to workers.

Companies requesting more than $150 million in subsidies must submit the plans, while those requesting less are “strongly encouraged” to do so.

Companies that raise funding may also be limited in their ability to do share buybacks, and those receiving more than $150 million will be urged to “share” with the government any profits that “exceed” forecasts. split”. The money would be pumped back into the semiconductor industry.

The childcare regulations have sparked a feverish debate.

Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat and a major supporter of federal child care aid, hailed Ms. Raimondo’s decision at the time.

“This is such an important, sensible move that recognizes a really basic reality: You can’t bring manufacturing back to America without workers – and those workers need childcare,” Ms Murray said.

However, some analysts warned that childcare prices could be inadvertently inflated by boosting demand without more supply.

And the Institute for Policy Innovation said that if the Commerce Department is allowed to impose these requirements, then the next step will be gender or race quotas for new hires in the industry.

President Biden had attempted to win Congressional approval of childcare subsidies in the 2022 budget, but that was dropped in favor of slimmed-down legislation that included money to fight climate change and funded the IRS to conduct more audits.

Mr Daines and his colleagues said the government should not use critical economic legislation as an overtake for its social policies.

They said Ms Raimondo herself admitted doing so, telling subordinates in a meeting reported by The New York Times: “If Congress doesn’t do what it should have done, we will in implementation.” “

The Washington Times has reached out to Ms Raimondo’s office for comment.

Besides Mr. Daines, the other signers of the letter were Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Senator John Cornyn of Texas. They all voted for the bill, which released the Senate on July 27 by a vote of 64 to 33.

The law is usually referred to as the CHIPS Act, although its official name is Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Fund.

Proponents say the law will put the full weight of the federal government on the push to reestablish the U.S. as a powerhouse in the manufacturing of semiconductors needed to make the computer chips found in today’s most advanced tools and devices are of crucial importance.

Mr Daines said the new rules could undermine those efforts.

“Indeed, the negative impact is already being felt, as some of the world’s largest chipmakers are expressing serious concerns about the conditions and therefore viewing the US as a less attractive investment option,” he and colleagues wrote.

Ms. Raimondo cited the Biden administration’s Good Jobs Initiative, a joint effort by her department and the Department of Labor to understand what it means to get a “good job” in the current economy, to justify the additional requirements.

The initiative calls for an emphasis on hiring “underserved communities,” a living wage, good benefits, the ability to join a union, secure jobs, and an emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility — a buzzword for those who say the economy is plagued by structural racism and other imbalances.

The semiconductor initiative should lead to a large number of new jobs, including around 100,000 in the construction industry alone.

Ms Raimondo said she would like women to fill many of those positions as part of her broader effort to hire a million more women for construction workers over a decade.

At the moment, the ministry says, out of 11.3 million construction workers, only 1.2 million are women.

“Applicants for CHIPS grants are being asked to take steps to reach and retain women in construction because without them, the United States cannot build the semiconductor workforce it needs,” she said.

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