Biden Administration Presses the Case for the Competition Bill

By Matthew McMullan
May 03 2022 |
The president will make his case for an industrial policy bill in Cincinnati this Friday. | Getty Images

The president says China doesn’t want industrial policy legislation pass. But if it were to, there’s one provision on the table it wants included.

President Biden will be in Cincinnati this Friday. He may or may not catch a Reds game – the Reds are having a tough year – but he will be stumping for his economic agenda while there. The Cincinnati Inquirer points out it’s already his second visit to the city and fifth to Ohio since taking office last year, and this time the White House says he’ll be “seeing additive manufacturing technologies at work.”

So a visit to talk up his economic agenda, eh? That will mean touting the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that passed last fall, the spending on which is only beginning to get underway. His Energy secretary was in Detroit Monday to talk about the $3.1 billion in grants the bill allocates for electric battery production, a major part of the supply chain in the EV industry.

And it will mean a forceful argument for the industrial policy bill, versions of which has already passed both the House and Senate, that is headed to conference to iron out the legislative differences.

Among lots of other things, the bill will make more than $50 billion available to build more semiconductor chip foundries in the United States. Ohio has already been selected to land one of them – outside Columbus – provided the bill passes.

Biden’s really going in on this. He was in Alabama today visiting a Lockheed Martin factory, where it makes the Javelin anti-tank missiles used to great effect against the Russian military in Ukraine. Each one takes more than 200 semiconductor chips to manufacture, the president said, and he argued the act’s passage was a matter of national security and “why the Chinese Communist Party is lobbying folks to oppose this bill.”

The context to that remark, provided by Bloomberg, is:

The Chinese Embassy in Washington has been seeking meetings with administration officials, congressional offices, think tanks and companies to gather information about the status of the bill and what provisions are likely to make it to the president’s desk.

Now, would the Chinese government be happiest if the bill didn’t pass at all? Probably. But Bloomberg’s right: If it’s to be enacted there’s definitely stuff in this legislative package that China would like to pass with it – like the provision that would basically order the U.S. Trade Representative to remove tariffs on a list of Chinese imports.

Yes, that could be in the bill too. Why it’s in a bill that attempts to make U.S. industry more competitive with China boggles the mind. But you can read more on it here. And we’ll be listening to see what President Biden has to say about this legislation when he visits Cincinnati.