U.S. Chip Production, Tourism Aided in Bills Advancing in Senate

  • Senators seek foreign investment to rebound from pandemic
  • Shortage of semiconductors pinches automakers in U.S.

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Senators advanced legislation Wednesday that aims to harness overseas money to accelerate the U.S. recovery from the pandemic.

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved bipartisan bills to increase foreign direct investment in the U.S. semiconductor industry and put several proposals in place to boost international travel.

“The travel and tourism industry is a vital pillar of the American economy. Covid-19 has devastated this industry, perhaps more than any other sector,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), ranking member of the committee, said during the markup.

International Travelers to Skip Extra U.S. Screenings Under Bill

Photo: Christopher Occhicone/Bloomberg
A tour bus goes past Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Dec. 4, 2021. New York City ranks first in a series of surveys on holiday travel—a promising sign of recovery for its $80.3 billion tourism industry.

The panel voted to advance legislation (S. 3375) to expedite the return of tourism now that the U.S. has reopened to vaccinated foreigners. The bill would kick start a pilot program to allow some international passengers to bypass security re-screening during layovers at U.S. airports, as well as create a task force to address the pandemic’s impact on air travel and set visit goals for international travelers.

The measure would “further help the travel and tourism industry recover from the impacts of Covid-19,” the panel’s chair, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), said.

The semiconductor measure (S. 3309) responds to a shortage of chips that has hindered recovery from the pandemic, especially for automakers.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the bill’s sponsor, has been pursuing several legislative avenues to bolster American semiconductor supply chains. This measure would direct SelectUSA, a trade promotion agency within the Commerce Department, to work more closely with state economic development organizations to attract foreign direct investment in the semiconductor industry.

Senators also advanced legislation (S. 46) to direct federal funding and technical assistance to states for coral reef restoration and a bill (S. 3196) to address sexual harassment and assault at the Merchant Marine Academy. All measures advanced by voice vote.

“This legislation would protect our mariners from sexual misconduct and hold accountable those who commit these abhorrent behaviors,” Wicker, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at lbyington@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com; Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com

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