NBC Montana: Officials talk Montana impacts of bipartisan innovation act

by Emma Wulfhorst

BOZEMAN, Mont. – The America Competes Act passed the U.S. Senate in March and this week headed to a conference committee in the U.S. House, where both chambers will work to agree on a final version.

“This bill, for all its provisions, is really about two big things: creating more American jobs and lowering costs for American families,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in March.

The bill helps pay for domestic semiconductor manufacturing, increases scientific research, revives lapsed trade programs — all things supporters say help America compete with nations like China.

Semiconductors are the foundation for computers and other electronic devices.

About 30 years ago, the U.S. manufactured around 37% of global semiconductor production. Today, it produces just 12%.

“At the moment the semiconductor shortage is really at a crisis level,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “A couple of years ago, the median inventory of semiconductors in the United States was about 40 days. Today, it’s fewer than five days. Our extreme dependence on other countries for semiconductors means that we’re very vulnerable.”

This bill would provide $52 billion to invest in incentivizing semiconductor production in the U.S., which could mean big impacts for Montana.

“I think that your region is well poised to take advantage of the jobs that will be created and also, quite frankly, is quite vulnerable and at risk if we don’t pass and don’t increase domestic production of semiconductors,” Raimondo said.

Montana’s U.S. senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines support the measure.

There’s no word yet on how long it could take to get this bill to the president’s desk.