Semiconductor chips are one of the most important inputs in the modern manufacturing process. And over the past year, Ohio manufacturers have faced severe shortages and long waits for these chips.
It’s why we passed a bipartisan bill in the Senate last year that includes the CHIPS Act, to invest in new semiconductor production in the U.S., like the massive Intel facility coming to Central Ohio. And this week we’re moving closer to getting legislation over the finish line.
We’ve seen over the past year that our supply chains are too long and too fragile. It’s a consequence of bad trade policy and bad tax policy, pushed by presidents of both parties, that hollowed out manufacturing in Ohio and across the Midwest.
Even though the U.S. started the semiconductor industry, today they’re mostly made overseas. 75% of chip manufacturing capacity is in Asian countries – mainly Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and China. And that has meant empty shelves, backorders, and higher prices for too many products.
Ford and General Motor plants in Lima and Toledo were forced to implement short-term plant closures last year because of chip shortages. And it’s not just cars– Ohio manufacturers making washing machines and trucks and solar panels need semiconductors. They’re a critical component of so many of the products Ohioans rely on and make today.
The CHIPS Act is all about reshoring those supply chains, investing in Ohio manufacturing jobs, and bringing down the price of cars and others products that Ohioans need.
The Senate passed it part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act last year, and for months Senator Portman and I have been urging the House of Representatives to move on this issue. And this week, the House finally passed its version of an innovation and competitiveness bill that includes the CHIPS Act. Now we need to negotiate a final bill and get it to President Biden’s desk.
As we heard from Intel a week and a half ago – investing in domestic semiconductor manufacturing is vital to our state’s economy and our country’s economic competitiveness.
Last year, for the first time in 20 years, our economy grew faster than China’s. Yet experts also estimate that the chip shortage knocked a full percentage point off U.S. GDP last year. We’re already seeing with the Intel announcement the kind of job growth we could unleash if we make progress on this problem.
In fact, there’s a solution that would go a long way toward fixing so many of our economic problems: make more things in Ohio. That’s what the CHIPS Act will do.
Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.