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Biden turns to former Trump officials on China competition bill

Biden turns to former Trump officials on China competition bill
Written by Publishing Team

The Biden administration is enlisting former Trump officials on Monday to convince Congress to pass legislation bolstering America’s semiconductor industry.

Why it matters: Officials believe the bill will make American manufacturing more competitive with China. By coordinating with Trump officials, the Biden team is trying to depoliticize and add urgency to the legislation.

  • The bill has stalled because of differences between the House and the Senate on how much — and where — to spend billions of dollars to strengthen America’s supply lines.

Driving the news: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is hosting HR McMaster, President Trump’s former national security adviser; Matthew Pottinger, another Trump NSC official; Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google; and members of Congress, including Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), on Monday for a virtual conversation about semiconductor manufacturing.

  • “This is clearly a national security issue, so we’ll be bringing together experts from both sides of the aisle, including Trump supporters,” Raimondo told Axios. “Every day that we wait is a day that we fall behind.”
  • “Best-case scenario is we get this done in the next couple of months,” she said. “The worst-case scenario is nothing happens.”

The backstory: Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) took a procedural step to resolve differences between the House- and Senate-passed versions.

  • Both bills include some $52 billion to incentivize companies to build semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the US
  • The Senate bill, which received 18 Republican votes, totaled $250 billion, and included money for other industries on the front lines of the US-China rivalry. In addition, it had funding to overhaul the National Science Foundation.
  • The House version grew to $335 billion and includes money for workers whose jobs have been outsourced, in addition to environmental and trade provisions. Only one Republican supported it.

The big picture: President Biden and his Cabinet have been hosting almost weekly events to press Congress to act on a China competitiveness bill.

  • He’s also sought focus on his long-term proposals to address supply chain snarls that have led to the highest inflation in more than 40 years, especially in battleground states.
  • For a short-term fix, the White House considered, then rejected, sending Americans gas cards, Axios’ Sophia Cai reported on Saturday.
  • On Monday, the president will address CEOs from a variety of industries at the Business Roundtable. He’ll talk about his plans to lower costs and create union jobs.

Between the lines: The CEOs of ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, along with other executives, have been invited to the White House for a separate event with senior Cabinet and economic officials on Monday, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

  • Biden officials have been warning oil and gas producers not to use high oil prices as a way to gouge customers at the pump.
  • A White House official said other expected attendees include clean-energy companies (Pattern and Invenergy) and refiners (Marathon Petroleum), as well as financial services (Visa, JP Morgan, Bank of America), food/agriculture (Land O’Lakes, Cargill) and manufacturing firms (Dow, US Steel).

Go deeper: Lawmakers have been arguing that the war in Ukraine, and Western sanctions against Russia, have revealed the vulnerability of America’s supply lines, especially in semiconductors — used in everything from fighter jets to refrigerators.

  • Raimondo is trying to drive home a similar point.
  • “In three weeks, we have massively disrupted Russian military operations and economy by cutting off their access to crucial technology,” she said.
  • “I shudder to think what other countries can do to the United States of America, with so many of our semiconductors produced outside of the country.”

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