President Joe Biden on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at kick-starting the implementation process of the sweeping $280 billion law to boost US domestic chip-making and scientific research, according to a copy of the order obtained by CNN.
Biden signed the order just two weeks after signing the law known as the CHIPS and Science Act. It’s a move that reflects an urgency – and understanding of the substantial task ahead – for top administration officials as they continue to grapple with the acute risk posed by the concentration of the critical semiconductor industry.
The executive order “demonstrates that we are quickly executing on the President’s vision for a 21st century American industrial strategy,” National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said in a statement. “The CHIPS Act will secure critical supply chains for American manufacturers and shore up vulnerabilities to lower costs for families and strengthen our national and economic security.”
The law marked a dramatic, bipartisan effort to thrust tens of billions of dollars into manufacturing, research and development, and science – all areas where the US has fallen behind some global competitors in federal investment in recent years. US competition with China, and its rapid rise economically and militarily, was viewed as a central and often driving focus of the push during the legislative process.
The executive order will establish an 16-member implementation steering council made up of cabinet secretaries and top White House officials from across Biden’s national security and economic teams. The council will be co-chaired by Deese, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Alondra Nelson, the acting director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The order will also detail Biden’s six priorities for the implementation process in the months ahead, which include a series of critical factors designed to guide the speed, oversight and private sector relationships for more than $52 billion in new funding to turbocharge domestic chip manufacturing to create long-term economic and national security.
“We will move as swiftly as possible to deploy these funds, while also ensuring the time needed to perform due diligence,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, a critical player in the law’s passage and member of the new steering council, said in a statement. “This program is intended to be an investment in America’s long-term economic and national security, and we will take the necessary steps to ensure its success.”
The other priorities set in place by Biden will include a focus on intensive review and compliance in how the funds are used and a focus on attracting significant private capital as part of a more sustainable and long-term effort. The law’s regional manufacturing hubs and innovation clusters and a focus on including an expansive range of stakeholders are the other key elements.
The Commerce Department has also launched a website, CHIPS.gov, that will serve as the central hub for implementation resources, including funding opportunities and timelines.
“We are committed to a process that is transparent and fair, and CHIPS.gov will be an essential channel through which we communicate with the public about CHIPS program initiatives,” Raimondo said.
Raimondo said her agency has been preparing “for months” while Congress hammered out a final agreement for what implementation would entail.
Biden signed the law amid a flurry of potentially transformative legislative success in the last month, which included finally closing the deal on a $700 billion economic and climate package White House officials had pressed for since the opening months of his presidency.
But throughout, the growing concern about the vulnerabilities created by the lack of domestic semiconductor manufacturing capacity served as an animating – and increasingly urgent – issue inside the West Wing.
In the days leading up to bill’s breakthrough on Capitol Hill, officials repeatedly cited China’s own push to ramp up domestic production of the critical components of everything from cars and washing machines to critical military weapons systems as a significant reason for alarm.