Sources: Biden expected to visit Saginaw area next week for event tied to chips legislation
Washington — Democratic sources say President Joe Biden is expected to travel to the Saginaw area Tuesday for an event related to the passage of legislation greenlighting $52 billion in subsidies for the semiconductor industry — a significant win for the state's auto industry.
Biden's potential visit would coincide with Michigan's primary election Tuesday. The White House declined to comment, though the Federal Aviation Administration issued a special Tuesday advisory for Saginaw that's typically issued ahead of presidential visits.
Three Democratic sources confirmed to The Detroit News that the president might visit the Saginaw area on condition of anonymity because the White House has not yet publicized the trip.
Biden's travel to Michigan would be his first this year, after five visits to the state during 2021. He was last in Michigan in November, when he visited General Motor Co.'s renovated Factory Zero electric vehicle plant in Detroit.
The Saginaw area is represented by U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, whose seat is a top target of national Republicans this year after the redistricting process left him in a mid-Michigan territory with a larger percentage of Republican-leaning voters.
The toss-up race will likely see millions in outside money, as it could help decide which party controls the House majority next year. Kildee's GOP opponent will be determined in Tuesday's primary.
The White House has not said when Biden will sign the CHIPS and Science Act, which passed the House on Thursday. The legislation directs $52 billion in subsidies and $24 billion in tax credits for the computer chip industry, as well as authorizing $100 billion over five years for research programs through the National Science Foundation.
The House voted with bipartisan support, including Republican U.S. Reps. Fred Upton of St. Joseph and Peter Meijer of Grand Rapids Township.
The legislation comes two years after American automakers began dealing with a global shortage of chips, causing companies to cancel shifts and store vehicles until enough chips were available to sell them, leading to the skyrocketing prices of new and used vehicles. The legislation includes $2 billion set aside for "legacy" chips used in autos and defense applications.
It also comes amid a period of increasing competition between the U.S. and China for global influence and economic prowess. Proponents of the funding have argued there's a national security interest in building up a domestic supply of chips.
The U.S. produces only 12% of the world's microchips, compared with 37% in the 1990s. Around three-quarters of the world's chip manufacturing capacity is in east Asia, and more than 90% of the world's capacity for the most advanced chips is in Taiwan, which faces possible military incursions from China. None of the most advanced chips are currently produced in the U.S.
The Semiconductor Industry Association estimates it costs 30% more to build a chip fab in the U.S. than in Taiwan, South Korea or Singapore and up to 50% more than in China.
Other countries in Europe and Asia have offered big subsidies for companies to locate there, and proponents argued the U.S. needed to invest to properly compete.
Biden, 79, recently recovered from a case of COVID-19, testing negative and ending his quarantine Wednesday.
First lady Jill Biden was in Detroit just last week with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, visiting with students attending a Detroit Public Schools Community District summer learning program at the Schulze Academy for Technology and Arts.