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Senior Biden officials to brief senators on semiconductor chips

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Three senior Biden administration officials will brief senators on Wednesday on the global innovation and technology race and a proposed bill to boost U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, two officials told Reuters.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks will conduct the classified all-senators briefing at 4 p.m. EDT on Wednesday as Democratic lawmakers and the White House make a push to win approval for legislation that would fund $52 billion for chip production subsidies and boost U.S. scientific and technological innovation to compete with China.

Raimondo told ABC News Sunday the chips funding bill "has to pass now. Not in six months from now, (but) now. It's bipartisan." She said the chips bill would help "bring down the prices of chips, which will bring down the price of pretty much everything you buy, because everything includes chips."

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday that if Democrats move ahead with a partisan social spending, tax and climate bill, it "will certainly crowd out our ability" to move ahead the bipartisan chips and China competition.

"Our side cannot agree to frantically steamroll through delicate bipartisan talks in order to meet an artificial timeline" so that Democrats can approve legislation that McConnell called partisan.

The Senate legislation, passed in June 2021, included $52 billion for chip subsidies and authorized another $200 billion to boost U.S. scientific and technological innovation to compete with China.

The House version, passed in February, is similar but nearly 3,000 pages long and includes a number of trade proposals.

Some fear Congress will not be able to reach a deal before the November congressional elections if it does not come to an agreement in the coming weeks.

A persistent shortage of chips has disrupted the automotive and electronics industries, forcing some companies to scale back production. Many companies think the shortage will last at least until late 2023 if not longer.

Lawmakers warn some major investments in new U.S. chip production could be jeopardized without action from Congress.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in WashingtonEditing by Matthew Lewis)