Remarks by President Biden in Meeting with CEOs and Labor Leaders on the Importance of Passing the CHIPS Act
South Court Auditorium
3:01 P.M. EDT
MR. DEESE: Hi, Mr. President
THE PRESIDENT: How are you?
MR. DEESE: Good, good. I think we’ve got everybody here, so over to you to kick us off here.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, here I go.
Thank you all for joining me today for this important and timely discussion. We’re here today to talk about the importance of passing the CHIPS for America Act to strengthen our national and economic security.
Later today, the Senate is going to hold a key vote to advance this critical legislation, God willing, and I’m glad we have an opportunity to hear from the industry and labor leaders about this important topic.
I’m going to turn this over to Brian now to get us started. Brian?
MR. DEESE: Great, thank you, Mr. President. And we are joined here by members of your economic and national security team, as well as business and labor leaders from across the country.
We thought, sir, that we would try to divide this into two categories, the first being the national security implications and the second being the economic security and economic opportunity embedded in this legislation.
But we wanted to really try to zero in on both the urgency of acting and of Congress, as you say, acting without delay, hopefully today and in the coming days, but also the opportunity and the opportunity for the country and for our national security as well.
So, sir, with your permission, we will start on the national security side and, kicking this off, go to Jim Taiclet, the CEO of Lockheed Martin. You’ve had the opportunity to visit their facility down in Alabama earlier this year.
And, Jim, I was hoping if you could just — for the President and all of us, just give us your sense of the broader national security concern here and also the ways in which semiconductors feed into the strength of our national security industrial base across the country.
MR. TAICLET: Thank you, Brian. Good afternoon, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, Jim.
MR. TAICLET: We believe a robust, secure supply of microprocessors is essential both to national security and to the health of the defense industrial base in the aerospace industry as a whole.
Mr. President, when we visited the Javelin production operation down in Alabama, as Brian mentioned, we were talking to the teams that actually build the product, build the Javelins, and they mentioned that, as you might recall, each of those Javelins requires over 250 microprocessors for each and every one.
And if we look at a larger product, helicopters such as the CH-53K that we’re building for your U.S. Marines today, there are over 2,000 microprocessors in that helicopter.
So when we go on to networking and adding in autonomy under, kind of, a 21st century national security architecture that we’re building, microprocessors are going to get even more important.
So it’s critical to increase U.S. production and test capacity. There’s a couple other reasons it’s very important too. One is trust. We’ve got to have confidence in the security of the hardware itself, that it hasn’t been tampered with or degraded when we receive it to put it into our aircraft, in missiles, satellite, et cetera. Right?
THE PRESIDENT: Brian had mentioned that, yeah.
MR. TAICLET: Also, we want to have “Made in the USA” access to the latest cutting-edge technologies to put into the systems that our sailors, Marines, airmen, and soldiers are going to be using in our defense.
And, you know, we’re all in the era, unfortunately, of renewed great power competition as well. In an era like that, we need to revise — revitalize the U.S. semiconductor industry. It’s imperative to maintain an effective deterrent, we believe, for the future to keep our country safe.
And today, our company and our suppliers, we’ve got adequate access, largely, to the semiconductors that we need to produce what was being done today, Mr. President. But because much of the production is in China and in Taiwan, access to be guaranteed for U.S. industry, including in defense industry, is fragile. You know, should China decide to withhold its production or inhibit Taiwan from exporting its chips or building them, we would have a serious economic and, eventually, national security issue on our hands.
And so, given the long lead times for producing a fab and building the factories, it is important and urgent to begin to rebuild U.S. semiconductor chip manufacturing in the U.S.
THE PRESIDENT: Jim, I’m glad you mentioned security — to be secure that any part we’re putting in a weapons system or a helicopter, or anything we have, that we are assured that no one has been able to tamper with that; that it’s made in America and built in America, stockpiled in America. And I think it’s really important.
And, by the way, I was really impressed with your workers down in Alabama when they went through the plant. I was there for several hours, as you know. And I think they really, really take this work seriously.
And so how does passing this legislation now — how does this make a difference and how — and how does it ensure our systems are going to stay at the leading edge? It’s one thing to say there’s uninterrupted access — we make it here and build it here in America. But tell me — talk to me a little bit more about how this ensures the systems stay on the leading edge.
MR. TAICLET: Well, we’re moving forward really rapidly, Mr. President, both in sort of physical world technologies like hypersonics, really advanced space sensors, stealth aircraft like the F-35, et cetera. But we’re also inserting what we call 21st century digital technologies into the system as well. And those are things like 5G, AI, distributed cloud computing. We need the latest in, you know, sub-10 nanometer chips, and we need them to be trustworthy to be able to introduce those kinds of capabilities, you know, again, in service of our, you know, sailors, airmen, Guardians, Marines, and aviators.
So we’ve got a lot of emphasis and a lot of importance on those latest technology chips because they are the building blocks of those defense systems of the future.
THE PRESIDENT: Am I correct to assume that the more sophisticated systems are going to be coming along, and the more that do — just inevitable — the more the need for reliance on the availability of these high-end computer chips are available to us, made in America, here in America — I mean, is there a correlation there?
MR. TAICLET: There’s a total correlation, Mr. President. You can’t conduct, you know, 5G-distributed cloud-computing operations with, you know, legacy technology chips. And we’re going to have to stay on the cutting edge of those building blocks, as I mentioned earlier, to be able to deliver that for the country.
So it’s really important that we don’t cede our leadership in semiconductor technology and, ultimately, manufacturing and test outside the U.S. — because, again, just like the Russians did with natural gas recently in Europe, if China can constrain its own production and distribution of chips to us or they pressure or otherwise inhibit Taiwan from doing so, you have a global mar- — global market that’s going to be upset. It’ll go beyond the defense industry.
But from a national, you know, security perspective, you know, I think this is a really high priority.
THE PRESIDENT: Jim, thank you very much. And again, you should be proud of the folks you have down in your factory. I was really impressed with them. They seemed to really — not just they’re doing their job, but they seem to be on a mission. I mean, I’m — I’m serious. It was — it was great to see. It was great to see.
Anyway, thank you.
MR. TAICLET: It meant so much for all of them to see you, Mr. President, and show your support. So, thanks.
MR. DEESE: So, Mr. President, I — I wanted to —
THE PRESIDENT: Brian, it’s all yours.
MR. DEESE: Yeah. I wanted to ask Deputy Secretary Hicks and Jake both to come in here to put the risks and the threats that Jim is framing up in the broader perspective here. And maybe, Deputy Secretary Hicks, if you could start in sort of talking about the core security risks that you think are in play here when we’re talking about semiconductors.
DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: Absolutely, Brian. So Jim Taiclet did a great job, I think, laying out the dependency that we have on the defense side, that our military has on advanced microelectronics — whether it’s the Javelins we saw down in Alabama or the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that Lockheed Martin puts out to our nuclear weapons forces; and, of course, as we look ahead to the future on emerging technologies, just as Jim said — quantum, AI, hypersonics, 5G, 6G, Next G — all of that is heavily dependent on ensuring our access to microelectronics.
We’re not the only ones focused on this challenge. Of course, China is also focused on this challenge. And today, approximately 98 percent of those commercial microelectronics that DOD is so dependent on are assembled, packaged, and tested in Asia. And as Jim said, we need to make sure both that we can assure our access and that we can have the most advanced capabilities that the commercial sector can offer.
So semiconductors, it’s not an overstatement to say, are the ground zero of our tech competition with China. They are able to have heavy subsidies. They weaponize the financial incentives to facilitate their acquisition of intellectual property. They’re building indigenous microelectronics capabilities. And they’re doing everything it takes to become the center of gravity for semiconductor R&D and manufacturing.
So for the U.S. military — as we look ahead to what we need to make sure our warfighters have, what they need to succeed on the field, and that they can have security in using those capabilities — we know we must secure a supply chain and domestic investment here in the United States.
The CHIPS-Plus Act will help us substantially return leading-edge microelectronics to the United States; deliver winning combination of design, system integration, and manufacturing. It will help us build commercially viable — which is critical for us in DOD — state-of-the art fabrication facilities. And that helps our commercial sector, of course, but I can’t stress enough how much that helps our military.
The resources provided for the CHIPS for America Defense Fund, inside the CHIPS-Plus Act, funds innovative prototyping, experimentation; it allows us to train our next generation of scientists, engineers, and tech entrepreneurs; and it will assist us in retooling the community of small, medium, and large businesses that create our leading-edge weapons systems.
By creating opportunities to onshore microelectronics fabrication, assembly, and testing, the CHIPS-Plus Act helps solve these two important, critical, pressing microelectronics challenges facing our military: both this issue of making sure we have assured access and also making sure that we can have state-of-the-art technology to our warfighters.
MR. DEESE: Jake.
MR. SULLIVAN: Thanks, Brian. And thanks to both Jim and Kath, who I think have really summed up the case very powerfully. So I’ll be brief in expanding on why the CHIPS Act is so essential for both our national security and our strategic competitiveness.
Making investments in cutting-edge technologies is, on one level, obviously necessary to ensure that we stay ahead of China in the race for the industries of the future. Because as others have pointed out, as the President has pointed out, for the first time, we face a competitor that has the means, the resources, and the commitment to overtaking U.S. technological leadership if we don’t up our game. But we have the means, capability, and resources to stay at the leading edge, to keep our technology leadership if we make the necessary investments, and this is the necessary investment.
On another level, these investments are also needed to mitigate the enormous risks to our national security and economic security that we face right now today due to vulnerabilities in key U.S. technology supply chains that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, passing this legislation and fully funding the CHIPS Act is crucial for strengthening our domestic supply of semiconductors for our defense, intelligence, and strategic sectors.
The bottom line is that continuing our dependence on a limited number of overseas facilities to produce so many of the chips we consume, including all of our most-advanced chips as of right now, is flat-out dangerous. And a disruption to our chip supply would be catastrophic.
So I’m both excited and relived that we’re on the cusp of addressing this fundamental national vulnerability. Because the longer we wait, the more dangerous the disruption.
We also understand that strengthening supply chains is a job we do in concert with allies. We see cooperation as essential in this regard.
And with this bill, we’ll contribute our part to diversifying and securing our shared chip supply chains, and we welcome our allies making their own investments as well.
And one final note: As much as we need to get the CHIPS piece of this bill done, it is CHIPS-Plus because chips alone are not going to be sufficient to preserve U.S. technology and leadership, which is why we need the rest of the Innovation Bill so that we invest not just in the core technology powering innovation today, but also the technologies that will power innovation tomorrow.
That’s why the additional authorizations for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy National Labs, for NIST, and other institutions that are contained in this bill are so important.
So, when it comes down to it, there’s bipartisan consensus, there’s support from business, there’s support from labor, there’s support from the national security community across the board, and there is support from the American people to pass this legislation now and meet this moment and resolve these vulnerabilities.
THE PRESIDENT: Jake, I’d like to ask you a question, if I can. You’ve heard me say it a bunch of times the last 15 months or so, and that is: It used to be, 30 years ago or longer, we invested more than 2 percent of our GDP in resea- — pure research and development. It got down by, I think, 0.7 percent of one — seven-tenths of 1 percent. And China and others have moved precipitously to invest more, particularly China, in research and development — pure research and development.
And you say the second piece of this bill, not — not the purely defense piece. Elaborate a little more on what that will encourage — what we hope it will encourage; what kind of — what kind of research and the types of development we’re talking about — or are we — in that regard.
MR. SULLIVAN: No, absolutely. As I was saying, the — our ability to maintain our innovation edge, to maintain our technology leadership rests on having the necessary inputs like chips, but it also rests on, as you just said, those foundational investments in the industries of the future — investments that are made in basic research on everything from artificial intelligence to quantum computing, to biotechnology, to the future of the Internet and the future of telecommunications.
And the country that is able to be out in front, to be leading the world in those areas, not only will have a powerful economic competitiveness that will be reflected in job creation and the growth of a strong middle class, but also will have powerful national security advantages. And those are national security advantages that have helped sustain America’s global leadership over decades.
And by making this big investment, which is something that you have talked about for years now, to actually get it done is going to make a massive difference in our ability to be able to maintain our competitive edge with respect to the industries of the future.
And in doing so, it will also help us shape the rules of the road on technology, on these important technologies, in a way that reflects our interests and our values and doesn’t let — leave them to be written by a competitor or a challenger of ours who doesn’t share the same values we share.
THE PRESIDENT: I think that’s a really important point. I think the point is that we have — as we’ve led the world in the past in research and development, generating new technologies — we’ve been inclined to share it with the rest of the world, not — not — not sort of just foc- — it as a economic weapon. We’ve — we’ve expanded, and our partners — the democracies of the world — have benefited.
And it seems to me this is — this makes up a part of that.
Madam Secretary, can I ask you a question as well?
The — you — you responded to Jim’s comments and gave your views on the core security risks at play. What — from your perspective, what is maybe — are you able to prioritize what risks are greater or less — security risk? That’s a tough question, because who knows for certain. But — (laughs) — I didn’t mean to put you on the spot, but can you sort of weigh them for me a little bit?
DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: Sure. I think in today’s weapons systems, what we worry about most is the compromise of the supply chain of the — of the chips that are in our existing weapons systems, or as we upgrade, as we always have to do, and put new chips in, those are, as I said, largely dependent on the commercial market for whatever those chips may be.
And so, we know that there have been others — adversaries — who have sought to affect our chip supply, have sought to alter that. And just making sure that we can assure that when we put our warfighters out, their weapons will operate as intended. And that we, the United States, retain control of that technology is incredibly important. I would put that at the top.
And I would put second to that this issue of the kinds of capabilities we seek for the future — the kinds of capabilities that make sure our warfighters are safer, more ready, can deliver effects in a way that deters adversaries from ever wanting to attack the United States.
And for that, we need that next-generation, most advanced, most capable microelectronics supply chain to be secure.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s important. All right. Well, thank you very much.
Brian, back to you.
MR. DEESE: Thank you, Mr. President. So, we’re going to pivot here from the national security case, which I think you’ve heard is both compelling and urgent to the economic security element of this.
And, obviously, as we make these investments, our goal is to generate durable economic opportunity here in the United States, and the opportunity there is quite significant. We’re going to bring in Geoff and Tom and Mark and Chris into this conversation. But to just frame this up at the beginning, I want to ask Secretary Raimondo to just give us the, sort of, broader perspective here on the economics.
And the — com- — in addition to being tireless on this effort, Secretary Raimondo and the Commerce Department, if passed, will be given principal responsibility for implementing this legislation.
So, Madam Secretary, if you could just sort of tee up what you see as the economic context, and then I want to bring in Geoff and Tom and Mark and Chris to this conversation.
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Brian. Good afternoon, Mr. President. Good to see you. And thank you for convening all of us on this incredibly important topic.
So, look, I think the most important thing Congress can do right now to support America’s economy and America’s workers and our global competitiveness is to get this CHIPS Act over the finish line and onto your desk this week. It’s vital. You know, the CHIPS Act proposes a $52 billion investment in domestic semiconductor production, which will enable us to revitalize our domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
I mean, the truth of it is we invented the semiconductor industry, right? Silicon Valley is Silicon Valley because we invented it right here in the United States of America. We used to make 40 percent of the world’s chips; we make about 12 percent now. And as Jake said, we make essentially none of the leading-edge chips, and we’re utterly dependent upon Taiwan for the leading-edge chips.
So in terms of economic security, chips are a cornerstone technology that underpin our entire economy. You need chips for smartphones, computers, cars, medical equipment. Nearly every piece of lifesaving medical equipment in a hospital runs on chips.
And the reality is: While we have invested nothing to spur domestic chip manufacturing, China has invested more than $150 billion to build their own domestic capacity. So we’re very much behind.
And the CEOs who are with us this afternoon, they know America has become totally reliant on China, particularly for the mature chips — the larger chips that are necessary for medical devices, aircraft, industrial machines, et cetera.
The reality is, I don’t — it’s not possible to have a strong economy and a strong country if we don’t make things in America and certainly if we don’t make chips in America.
So, right now, America — chip manufacturers are finalizing their investment plans. And passage of the CHIPS Act is necessary, it’s urgent, because the CHIPS funding will be the deciding factor on where those companies choose to expand. We know they will expand, because they have to in order to meet demand; there’s no question about that. The question is where will they expand. And we want them, we need them to expand here in the United States. We want high-quality, good-paying jobs in America.
And, you know, the truth of it is, as I’ve said all along, this CHIPS money is not a subsidy for big companies to make them more profitable or so they have more cash for stock buybacks or to pad their bottom line or to invest in other countries. This is about investing in the United States of America — in our workers, in our economy, and in our national security.
And we need Congress to act so we send a clear signal to the world that we’re serious about rebuilding our domestic manufacturing industry. It’s good for our economy, it’s good for our competitiveness, and it’s good for American workers.
MR. DEESE: Thanks. Thanks, Gina. I want to bring, Geoff — you and Tom into this conversation. And maybe I’ll start with you, Geoff, that — the Secretary just mentioned it, but some people are actually surprised to understand the healthcare nexus here. But can you just elaborate a bit on how you see the systemic impact in the healthcare industry, both on the risk side but also the opportunity side, when you’re thinking about semiconductors and the security of supply of those chips?
MR. MARTHA: Sure. Well, first of all, thank you, Mr. President, for including me in this really important conversation. It’s a real honor to represent the medical technology industry here.
You know, Brian, as you were saying, you know, one of the most critical aspects of our ability at Medtronic and for the medical technology at large to get lifesaving and innovative medical technology to patients is semiconductors. They are essential components in thousands of medical devices — Secretary Raimondo was referring to — that Americans rely on every day. Things like instruments that enable surgery or devices that manage chronic conditions, like an insulin pump for a diabetes patient, or a pacemaker for a patient with an irregular heartbeat, or even treating COVID. Right? We manufacture pulse oximeters that measure the oxygenation of the blood, as well as ventilators for those patients that are really sick with COVID.
And, you know, our industry’s volumes are, you know, relatively small — small compared to some other sectors. We’re in the low single digits of the overall chip market. But every semiconductor — every semiconductor component used in a medical device directly impacts a patient’s life.
And, now, we appreciate the efforts of the semiconductor companies to try to alleviate the current constraints with additional investments, but more capacity is needed. You know, that’s why I’ve been a vocal supporter of the CHIPS Act for a while and urging Congress to pass and fund this act.
Look, beyond the manufacturing — and we definitely need manufacturing here in the U.S. to increase our capacity — you know, we need expanded research and development as well. And so, it’s all — passing this act won’t solve all the problems overnight, but the investment will result in new infrastructure, will spur innovation, increase supply. And this will help us solve these supply constraints that we’re under sooner, but more importantly, it’ll help us avoid these challenges going forward.
I mean, you know, in med-tech, we’ve done our best to manage the situation with limited supply. And we’ve been, you know, nimble enough and adaptive enough to avoid major disruptions to delivery of patient care, but there have been disruptions and there’s ongoing disruptions to patient care. And this puts a strain on an already strained healthcare environment — the hospitals and healthcare workers — as we’re trying to move inventory around to cover cases.
And this shortage on semiconductors is predicted to go on for some time. Investment is needed. And as Secretary Raimondo mentioned, the particular types of chips that we use — that are larger and are much more efficient on energy — are the ones that are, you know, the most — in most critical, you know, demand right now and the shortest supply.
And, you know, in terms of opportunities going forward — shifting gears, as you mentioned — you know, we’re at a great inflection point here of — in healthcare, where you’ve got traditional biomechanical or biomedical engineering advances.
And when you combine those with advancements in the digital world and the use of — appropriate use of data to really customize a therapy for a patient — I’ll just give you one example: You know, patients suffering from Parkinson’s often get a stimulator to apply low amounts of stimulation to a certain part of their brain to control the Parkinson’s symptoms, which are very difficult to live with.
Historically, those patients would have to come in to their neurologist to get that device reprogrammed on a pretty frequent basis because disease — it’s a progressive disease. But now, with the computing capabilities that are out there and the use of data, we can — we can do that all remotely and actually customize that therapy for that individual patient. And the outcomes are just much better, and the strain on the healthcare system is much less.
And we — I could give you thousands of examples like that, where the use of chips inside devices, on the edge, in the cloud, and the advancements in computing power are really being harnessed to change patient care. And in such a profound way, you’re improving outcomes, you’re improving access, and you’re bringing down cost all at the same time.
So that’s the exciting part that we want to accelerate, but it’s really hard right now, given the semiconductor supply that we’re facing.
MR. DEESE: Thanks. Thanks, Geoff.
Tom, I wonder if you could offer your perspective too. We’ve heard a lot about the concerns in the transportation sector and engines, but also — both in today constraints — but also the vision forward to the electrification of the transportation sector as well. We welcome your thoughts here.
MR. LINEBARGER: Thank you, Brian.
And, Mr. President, it’s great to see you so well. Thank you for the opportunity to join this group of thought leaders from government and industry and labor on the importance particularly of innovation funding for the semiconductor industry.
I think you know Cummins is an over 100-year-old company. We are headquartered in Columbus, Indiana. We have over 25,000 employees in the U.S. And we work together to innovate on power solutions from the industrial sector. It’s remarkable how much Geoff and I have in common, with our perspective on semiconductors, from completely different sectors.
Like others at the table, we are facing a supply chain crisis. We are unable to get the components we need, and semiconductors is always at the top of the list. And semiconductors are really the basic building blocks; they are the steel of the 21st century. They are what make everything happen in the industrial sector, just as they do in the medical sector.
We appreciate the administration’s focus on the bottlenecks and challenges we’re facing and your continued support of securing semiconductor funding in Congress.
The semiconductor shortage has not only impacted our ability to meet customer demand but the technology and equipment we need to run our operations. We rely on semiconductors to power our machines, to put our electronic control modules in our engine systems that control emissions, even to make badges for our employees so that they can all come back to work.
In Cummins’s case, we also buy the full range of semiconductors. And I want to highlight how important that is. Geoff talked about what we often call “legacy chips.” These are larger-scale chips. They’re more efficient, in his case. They’re also more robust, in our case. They live in engines that serve some of the most demanding applications. And those legacy chips are just as important as the new technology and the latest chips are for the defense industry. Those legacy chips are what power the trucks, cars, and many other basic building blocks of our economy today.
You know, these chips now deliver our food. They make sure that our generators support our hospitals and data centers. They make sure on the hottest day of the summer you’ve got air conditioning, and the — and on the cool- — on the coolest day you’ve got heating.
In addition to manufacturing delays, costs have escalated dramatically. So the supply chain crises and some of the effects that Secretary Raimondo talked about have also driven significant cost increases. We are often buying chips from brokers now and paying as much as 10 times the regular cost to get these chips just to make sure that we can keep trucks on the road — driving inflation in our industry and challenges throughout our supply chain.
And I would say that semiconductor manufacturing, as all of us know, requires high capital investments. And the return for those investments for — especially for legacy chips and more basic chips — is not as high as it is for the latest edition chips. I think that’s why some of this funding is so critical to ensure the kind of investments we need made in the United States are actually made.
We believe the CHIPS for America Act will go a long way to ensure not only the high-tech chips are made for the innovation of tomorrow, which is critical, but also that these basic and legacy chips are also provided as part of our supply chain.
In addition to the semiconductor funding, this bill also provides critical funding for the National Science Foundation and other agencies that will ensure that we are keeping pace with the investments made by other countries for their domestic manufacturers.
The way that I think about that is that these — the investments made in the CHIP Act are going to move us from wringing our hands about where we sit in competition with others, to actually moving on to the field and helping U- — the U.S. manufacturers compete.
And I think we all know that when U.S. manufacturers compete with the workforce that we have and the capabilities we have, we can win.
MR. DEESE: Thank you, Tom.
I — Mr. President, with your permission, I would — I would just ask Chris to come in here too.
On that last point, Tom, that you made, I think is very salient that this is a bill that is also about opportunity for Americans [sic] workers and for the opportunity to build good jobs, good jobs in construction and installation and operations of both the facilities to produce chips themselves and the larde- –larger and broader ecosystem.
So, Chris, could you just give us your perspective from — from the ground of how you’re thinking about this bill and where you see the opportunity for American workers?
THE PRESIDENT: I can’t hear him.
MR. DEESE: Chris, if you can hear us, I think you’re muted.
MR. SHELTON: Sorry, thanks for inviting me here, Mr. President. We’re really grateful to be here, because as far as we know, CWA is the only union representing manufacturing workers at a final assembly semiconductor factory in the United States, and we have been strong supporters of the CHIPS Act.
The CHIPS Act is a key component of both creating good jobs here in the U.S. and strengthening our ability to compete with China. Passage of this bill is going to drive a huge amount of investment in semiconductor manufacturing across the country. It will result directly in tens of thousands of jobs to help grow a key component of our manufacturing sector.
As I mentioned, CWA already represents hundreds of workers in Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, right down the street from the President’s hometown, who manufactures semiconductors — the only plant that we know of in the United States that’s union represented.
With the passage of this bill and the growing investment in semiconductor production, I’m expecting to be able to help organize thousands of additional workers. For those workers, this bill will be a ticket to a better life. I’m also glad that the bill includes key protections to prevent companies that receive the money from turning around and investing in semiconductor production in China instead of the United States.
That means that it will help grow — us grow this industry right here in the USA for the long term.
And it actually goes far beyond that. This bill will help prevent us from having to face the situation where the numerous industries that depend on semiconductors — and that’s just about every industry — are simply unable to acquire them ever again.
So, this bill is a key part of rebuilding our manufacturing sector as a whole. There’s no question that we need a comprehensive approach to compete and to take on China’s unfair trade practices. This bill is a great first step in putting that approach together.
I hope that Congress sends this bill to your desk, Mr. President, as soon as possible, and continues working to strengthen our competitiveness and create good jobs for American workers.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Chris.
MR. DEESE: Mr. President, we’re —
THE PRESIDENT: Brian —
MR. DEESE: We’ve lost Mark for the time being, so let me turn it back to you, Mr. President, for any questions you have or closing — closing comments here.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I do have a couple of questions for Tom. I’d like to go back to him for a second.
You know, Tom, since I took office, there have been a massive investment in electronic vehicles and the EV batteries.
I know Cummins is on the cutting edge of fuel cell and battery electronic technology. These technologies are more — they use more semiconductors. And how’s this legislation going to make a difference for you in terms of accelerating your innovation?
And I might add that in the — in the act we passed for infrastructure, we have an awful lot of money for putting in electronic charging stations all throughout America, along our highways and the like, and — but that doesn’t even count the battery technologies that we need to develop other things.
So, talk to me a little bit about the technologies and the use of semiconductors, and why that’s likely to increase, and how this is going to affect innovation. Because I know it’s a broad question, and maybe not a fair —
MR. LINEBARGER: It’s a great — President — it’s a great question, Mr. President, and thank you for asking it.
The use of semiconductors in cars and trucks and other industrial equipment goes by an exponential scale effect. Every single new range of models, you see an exponential increase in semiconductors. I think that’s part of the reason why the industry is so far behind now. As the — as the demand increased for vehicles, they just didn’t do the math right about how many more of these legacy chips we were going to need.
And as you say, as we move into electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles burning hydrogen, we are going to need — that exponential curve is just going to keep growing.
And I would say that in addition to the fact that we’ll need more semiconductors, newer versions, more capability to invest, we want to establish leads in those technologies so that we can sell those climate-improving technologies to the rest of the world. That’s really the way that the U.S. industry builds. We solve the problems that we need to solve here in the U.S, and then we use that same technology to export those products to the rest of the world, and we get 95 percent more customers.
That’s essentially how Cummins built its business. I think that’s — a lot of us have benefited from that, and we add jobs at home by building that business overseas.
So I think we have a big opportunity here, but we need to invest now. The time is running — running out for us to get to the lead. We already see Europe and China and other places moving faster in battery electric and fuel cell electric technologies, and we have to sprint to catch up.
And the — of course, the Infrastructure Bill was a big help there. I think there’s also hydrogen that’s going to be needed in the semiconductor industry. And we’re — and we’re — we and other companies in the U.S. offer electrolyzers that can provide that hydrogen using green energy, and then we have green hydrogen so we decarbonize the industry significantly as well.
So there are — there’s a lot of upsides for us investing here in the U.S. in terms of building out that clean energy portfolio that allows us to lead for decades to come.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I couldn’t agree with you more. I — it seems to me that — you know, like, I joke — and I don’t joke, because I’m serious when I say it. When I think of climate change, I think jobs. And I think there’s so many opportunities that we have. And people, understandably, don’t even realize that if we could just get our act together in the Congress, we’d be able to do a heck of a lot more and create literally thousands and thousands and thousands of good-paying jobs.
Let me shift over. I was going to ask Mark as well, but, Chris, thank you for all the support you’ve been giving to this effort. You know, it was a top priority for me to ensure that incentives for semiconductors have a Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirement. And these semiconductor projects — there are billions of dollars and thousands of construction jobs in each of these sites.
And how are those Davis-Bacon requirements going to make sure that jobs — that those jobs are good jobs? Is there a correlation?
MR. SHELTON: Yeah, the Davis-Bacon requirements will make sure that people — you know, that there isn’t a race to the bottom; that there’ll be an even playing field to the people working in this industry and the people working on building the factories that will build these semiconductors. And, you know, Davis-Bacon requirements will make sure that that happens and that, you know, no one will be left behind.
And it will give us really, really good union jobs, mostly, to make sure that the factories are built by union labor and that the manufacturing is done by professional union people who really care about what they’re doing and will stay on the job because they’re making good wages and have a good job.
THE PRESIDENT: (Audio muted.) (Inaudible) — union labor is that, you know, you are — all the folks working for you essentially have a college degree in the technology that they’re working. I mean, you just don’t join your union and all of a sudden everything falls in place. You got to go to school, in effect; you got to be trained; you got to be in a position to be able to do what you do better than anybody in the world does it. And so that was the reason why I’m pushing Davis-Bacon.
And, you know, some of the facilities that — one that, God willing, will be built very shortly — it was announced a while ago, pending what happens in this legislation now — is one outside of — outside of Columbus, Ohio.
And it’s going to create a whole lot of jobs, about — it’s going to create a lot of jobs, but it’s also going to create a whole lot of jobs in building the facilities. And it just — it matters a lot, it seems to me.
And I’ve — and I say to all of you: I think we’re a heck of a lot stronger as an economy and more sustainable when we build from the bottom up and the middle out, because when that happens, everyone does well — business does very, very well; the wealthy do very, very well.
And I think we got a shot as we move down the line here. And this CHIPS bill is an important piece of it to be able to stay in the game and be the most competitive nation in the world. That’s what we have to reestablish. We still are in a lot of places, but we got to do it here.
And — but I — I don’t know. Chris, you were talking about the benefits and workers in the communications and media industry, as well as the importance of manufacturing jobs and the country’s supply chain resilience. Do you — do you guys talk about that? Do you — do you worry about whether or not that’s going to happen? I mean, is that — is that something, you know, you’re sitting around, you guys actually discuss, in practical terms?
MR. SHELTON: We talk about it every day, Mr. President, because we see what’s happening. We see that lots of industries that — as some of the CEOs said, lots of them can’t build or make whatever it is they make because they can’t get semiconductors, for instance.
And that, you know, when it’s another country making these things instead of good American workers, they can always stop, and they do stop, and we see this happening every day. And we — you know, we worry about what’s going to happen to this country if nothing is ever made here again. If we don’t make it here, we can’t be sure that, A, it works and that, B, we’re going to be able to use it.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’ve actually increased manufacturing, thank God, even though we’ve missed opportunities. But we — we’ve increased manufacturing here at home.
And, look, I want to thank everyone for joining today’s meeting. I know I’ve kept you a long time here. But the CHIPS Act, in my view, is going to advance the nation’s competitiveness and our technological edge.
You know, we’ve been working closely with the Senate and the House to finalize a strong bipartisan bill. Congress must pass this bill as soon as possible so we can get it to my desk so we can sign it and get moving.
I know we just talked about it, but for the folks at home, let me explain why this is so urgent.
First, there’s an economic imperative. As we just heard, this bill is going to supercharge our efforts to make semiconductors — those tiny chips the size of a fingerprint, which is — you know, some are large, but the size of a fingerprint — that power our everyday lives in America. You know, they’re the building blocks for the modern economy, powering everything from smartphones, to dishwashers, to automobiles. I could go on.
America invented semiconductors, but over the years, we let the manufacturing of those semiconductors get sent overseas. And we saw that, during the pandemic, when our factories overseas that make these chips shut down because of in the case of — COVID was a big reason for it — the global economy basically comes to a halt, driving up the costs for families all around the world but particularly here at home.
One third of the core inflation last year in 2021 — one third of it was due to the high price of automobiles. You know why? It was driven — that’s driven by the inability to manufacture more automobiles. Why? The shortage of semiconductors. One third.
And even as we had that historic job growth and economic growth last year, we sacrificed $240 billion in additional economic activity because of the chips shortage. So, for the sake of the economy and jobs, we have to make these semiconductors here at home — at home.
Second, there is a national — as you heard, there’s a national security imperative, as Deputy Defense Secretary Hicks and Jake Sullivan pointed out. Semiconductors also power — power our weapons systems.
And — and, Jim, earlier this year, I went down to Lockheed’s factory, as I said, in Alabama, where they’re making the Javelin missile that we’re supplying to Ukraine to defend themselves against Putin’s unprovoked war.
It’s crystal clear to me that we need these semiconductors — crystal clear, guys; all you have to do is be there and talk to the workers — not only for these Javelin missiles, but also for the weapons systems of the future that are going to even be more reliant on advanced chips.
Unfortunately, we’re not producing enough of them. Taiwan produces 90 percent of the leading-edge chips; we produce zero.
China is moving ahead of us in manufacturing these sophisticated chips as well, as we watched the U.S. production of these chips decline from 40 percent of global production to 12 percent. At the same time, we watched China go from 2 percent to 16 percent.
And China’s goal, as recently stated, is 25 percent. They need to produce 25 percent to become fully self-sufficient. It’s no wonder that China is watching this bill so closely and actively lobbying U.S. businesses against the bill.
America invented the semiconductor; it’s time to bring it home. Doesn’t mean others can’t do it. It’s time we bring it home for all that we need for our security and our economic growth.
Third, it’s just not me signaling the — signaling an urgency here. Listen to the business leaders here today and across the country. They’re making decisions right now about where to invest and ramp up production of these semiconductors. Are they going to invest in China, India, Japan, South Korea, the European Union?
They’re all making historic investments in the tens of billions of dollars to attract businesses to come to their countries — the countries I just named — to produce these chips.
The United States has to lead the world in the production of these chips for our own safety’s sake, as well as our economic growth.
Let me be clear: This bill is not about handing out a blank check to companies. Commerce Secretary Raimondo will be overseeing the key investments of this bill, explaining how she’s laser-focused on the guardrails that will protect taxpayers’ dollars and the interests of the American workers, small businesses, and the communities in which they reside.
And the bill — the bill will require that I personally have to sign off on the biggest grants before they can be dispersed. It’s not sufficient. I’ve got to sign off on the big ones.
Secretary Raimondo will have the power that if companies don’t meet the commitments and that are — that are required to meet by — in this bill, she can take back the money.
This includes the requirement on the construction of these semiconductor facilities to pay Davis-Bacon prevailing wage, which will ensure that tens of thousands of new construction jobs are good-paying union jobs and the facility is the best built in the world.
And we’re not allowing — you know, we’re — we’re not going to allow companies to use these funds to buy back stock or issue dividends, but to invest.
And finally, this bill is about more than just semiconductors. It authorizes significant investment in American science and technology, which I mentioned earlier.
We have a need to power our economy and national security for the decades to come. We make those decisions now. And the bill has requirements that when we use taxpayer dollars to fund research and development, the companies who get those funds have to deploy that technology that comes from that R&D and the manufacturing of it right here in America. They get the money, they invest, they find a way, they find an answer. They have to invest in America, in a facility here in America.
You know, we’ll — we’ll — we’re going to both invent in America and make it in America. And we’re going to make sure that we include all of America, tapping into the greatest competitive advantage — our diversity and talented workforce — making sure technologies of the future don’t only benefit wealthy shareholders or (inaudible) but support technology hubs all across America, including historic investments in historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions, which have the capacity to do so much more given the opportunity.
Look, I know we could go on for a long time — and I’ll be back to you, God willing — but I want to thank you again for joining me today and for the work in getting this bill to this point.
So, we’re — we’re close. We’re close. So, let’s get it done. So much depends on it.
And thank you all for helping today. I truly appreciate it.
Q Mr. President, how are you feeling with COVID?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m feeling great, even though I’ve had two full nights of sleep all the way through. Matter of fact, my dog had to wake me up this morning. My wife’s not here. She usually takes him out in the morning while I’m upstairs working out. And so, I felt this nuzzle of my dog’s nose against my chest about five minutes to 7:00.
So — no, but it is — I’m feeling good. My voice is still raspy. I’ve had — every morning and every afternoon — I mean, excuse me, every evening, I get a full-blown series of tests — everything from temperature, to oxygenation — the oxygen in my — in my blood, to my pulse, to — I mean, just across the board. And so far, everything is good. I mean, everything is on the button.
And so I’m — I’m feeling better every day. I still have this — a little bit of a sore throat and a little bit of a cough, but it’s changing significantly. It’s now up in the — in the upper part of my — my throat. Actually, it’s more around my nose than anywhere else.
And — but they tell me that’s par for the course. And I think I’m on my way to a full, total recovery, God willing.
Q Mr. President, but when do you —
Q How bored have you been?
Q — when do you think you’ll be to work in person, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope I’m back to work in person by the end of this week. But I’m — as you know, I’ve been keeping a full schedule. I mean, I’ve done four major events today. And I’m — you know, I’ve — and I didn’t start today until 9:30, but — and I’ll finish today probably by — what time is it now? I’ll finish about 6:30. Plus, I’m not keeping the same hours. But I’m — you know, I’m meeting all my requirements that’s come before me, and we’re making decisions on a whole range of other topics as well.
Q Mr. President, will you speak with President Xi of China this week?
THE PRESIDENT: That’s my expectation, but I’ll let you know when that gets set up. Okay? I promise I’ll let you know. It will not be a surprise.
Q And, Mr. President, we’re getting GDP numbers on Thursday. How worried should Americans be that we could be in a recession?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re not going to be in a recession. And in my view, we are — the employment rate is still one of the lowest we’ve had in history; it’s in the 3.6 area.
We still find ourselves with people investing.
My — my hope is we go from this rapid growth to a steady growth. And so I’ll see — we’ll see some coming down. But I don’t think we’re going to — God willing, I don’t think we’re going to see a recession.
Thank you all so very, very much.
Q Feel better.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
3:57 P.M. EDT