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Intel Spends Record Sum on Lobbying Amid Global Chip Shortage

(Bloomberg) -- Intel Corp., one of the major semiconductor companies in the US, spent a record $1.75 million on federal lobbying over the past three months as the chip industry fought to secure billions of dollars in grants and subsidies from Congress.

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Intel’s spending on lobbying, which came amid a chip shortage that has choked supply chains around the world, increased 65% from the roughly $1 million the company spent in the second quarter of 2021. The previous high was $1.43 million in the first quarter of this year.

The semiconductor industry’s latest lobbying disclosures, which were released on Wednesday, show that the industry blitzed Washington with an enormous lobbying campaign, with the top chip companies spending a total of $19.6 million during the first half of this year alone.

The companies spent $15.8 million in the first half of 2021.

The industry has spent record sums over the last year as it advocated for legislation that would dedicate more than $50 billion to increase the manufacturing of semiconductors in the US

The Senate this week voted 64 to 34 to start debate on the semiconductor legislation, setting up passage as early as next week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated on Wednesday that the House will schedule a vote soon.

Lobbying on the legislation, known as the CHIPS Act, has picked up steam since the beginning of 2021 as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hailed the $52 billion infusion as the centerpiece of his ambitious legislative plan to counter China’s growing technological presence. Because of partisan disputes, it’s likely that Congress will pass the CHIPS Act next week without the broader China competition package.

The international chip companies have increased their Washington game, lobbying to ensure that assistance goes to companies outside of the US as well. The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which accounts for more than 90% of the global output of the most advanced chips, spent more money on lobbying this quarter than it has previously, shelling out $650,000. That’s a 25% increase over the $501,630 that TSMC spent during the second quarter of 2021, and a 1.6% increase over the company’s previous high of $640,000.

The major players in the industry, including Qualcomm Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc., spent a total of $8 million in the second quarter.

While the billions in chip assistance enjoys bipartisan support, some critics on the left have described the CHIPS Act as a giveaway to a wealthy industry. Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders this week described the legislation as “extortion.”

“Should American taxpayers provide the micro-chip industry with a blank check of over $50 billion at a time when semiconductor companies are making tens of billions of dollars in profits and paying their executives exorbitant compensation packages?” Sanders asked during a speech on the Senate floor. “I think the answer to that question should be a resounding no.”

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