House Democrats drop 2,900-page alternative to chipmaker bill that passed Senate over 7 months ago

Since passage of the Senate's U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, new and used vehicle prices have continued to rise amid a shortage of computer chips
Nancy Pelosi, Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2021

House Democrats have unveiled a 2,900-page alternative to the Senate's computer chip funding bill that passed over seven months ago.

The effort comes amid a major shortage of microchips that has resulted in a sharp increase in the cost of goods that need them, include vehicles, the prices of which have skyrocketed in recent months. 

The Commerce Department warned Tuesday that the country's supply of computer chips has fallen to alarmingly low levels, creating the possibility of factory shutdowns. The average price of a vehicle in the U.S. now exceeds $47,000.

Like the bipartisan Senate-passed bill, the House version includes $52 billion for chip manufacturing and supply chain security.

However, the House bill does not include $190 billion related to technology and research to better compete with China that’s part of the 2,400-page Senate legislation that passed in June with 68 votes.

Last week, Virginia Democrat Sen. Mark Warner encouraged the House to pass the assistance for chipmakers as a way to lower prices of vehicles for consumers.

He said the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act likely hasn’t passed in the House since June because Democrats were focused on other issues such as the large-scale infrastructure bill.

Ohio Sens. Rob Portman, a Republican, and Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, co-chairmen of the Senate Auto Caucus, also advocated for passage earlier this month.

“The need for this funding is self-evident: over the summer, General Motors, Ford, and other automotive companies announced short-term plant closures in Lima and Toledo, in many cases due to pandemic-related production issues at overseas manufacturers of automotive-grade chips,” the senators wrote to House and Senate leaders. 

"In light of the far-reaching consequences for our nation’s economy and national security, there is bipartisan consensus in favor of funding the CHIPS for America Act to catalyze new semiconductor investments in the United States – we should move quickly to ensconce that consensus in law."

The newly-introduced 2,900-page House bill, renamed the America Competes Act, would need to pass the Senate before it makes it way to President Biden’s desk.