The White House Keeps Up the Pressure on the Competitiveness Bill

By Matthew McMullan
Mar 10 2022 |
The Biden administration is pushing hard to get a bill that would support domestic semiconductor production through Congress. The Alliance for American Manufacturing wants to see trade remedy legislation included in this industrial policy. Getty Images

But we want to make sure a trade remedy update is included in the final legislation.

President Biden on Wednesday hosted a pair of Midwestern governors and corporate executives from major manufacturers for a public roundtable, as the White House continues to push Congress to pass a competitiveness bill that’s been on Capitol Hill since last summer.

This “China competitiveness bill” – also known as the Bipartisan Innovation Act, the America COMPETES Act, the Endless Frontier Act, and the biggest American industrial policy bill in decades – is meant to shore up American industry so it can better compete with its counterparts in China, and as of late it has been a major focus of President Biden’s domestic agenda. In fact, the bill was singled out in last week’s State of the Union address when the president argued its passing was crucial to reshoring critical manufacturing industries like semiconductor and battery production. He even took it a step further, arguing reshoring is fundamentally an inflation-fighting tactic:

On Wednesday, the president asked the gathered business executives to describe the production disruptions their companies had experienced because of supply shortages (specifically of semiconductor chips).

“My question is,” he said to Elizabeth Door, Whirlpool’s executive in charge of the company’s supply chains, “why is domestic production of semiconductors important to Whirlpool? And how will this bipartisan initiative, if it passes and gets to my desk, how is that gonna affect you? I think I know the answer, but I think it’s important to hear it from you.”

Door pointed to her company’s significant American footprint in reply.

“We have nine factories in the U.S. Eighty percent of the products we sell in the U.S. are produced in the U.S.,” she said.  “We’ve been challenged by the supply chain – not being able to deliver appliances to each of our consumers in the U.S. everyday due to the semiconductor issues. We see them as an essential component to our appliances. They’re found in almost every once of our appliances and they’re absolutely critical.”

To be clear, she’s right and so is the president. Semiconductor chips are crucial to domestic manufacturing. Without ’em, nothing works. Their scarcity is the main reason it’s hard to buy a car right now! And the Bipartisan Innovation Act as it stands is a good way to get more of these things made in the United States.

But while the Senate’s version of this bill (as we pointed out a few weeks ago) has semiconductor production well-covered, the House’s version has a lot of other interesting stuff in it, as well as legislation that should absolutely be included in the final version of the bill. I’m talking, of course, about the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0, which would modernize existing U.S. trade remedy laws. Among its other updates (which you can read about here), it would see that plaintiff companies don’t have to file the same case over and over against foreign firms that are happy to reroute unfairly traded imports through third-party countries.

Some senators (including the bill’s original Senate sponsors, where it was first introduced) are clamoring to make sure the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 is in there if and when the competitiveness bill makes it to President Biden for his signature. And, look, I’m just gonna say it: The Alliance for American Manufacturing thinks that’s a righteous clamor.

Yes, we should be investing in domestic production capacity for critical industries. But we should also be making sure these industries aren’t disadvantaged by foreign competition that is happy to flood the American market with unfairly traded goods. So TAKE ACTION: Tell your members of Congress to support the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 in the Bipartisan Innovation Act.