- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 24, 2021

President Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday directing his administration to conduct a 100-day review of U.S. supply chains as automakers deal with a shortage of crucial parts.

The order directs federal agencies to review vulnerabilities in supply chains for drugs, minerals, semiconductors, and batteries for electric vehicles.

It also calls for a broader one-year review in areas like biological preparedness, the energy sector, transportation, and food and agricultural supply chains.

“The American people should never face shortages in the goods and services they rely on — whether that’s their car, or their prescription medicines, or the food at the local grocery store,” the president said.

Lawmakers have raised concerns throughout the coronavirus pandemic about the United States’ reliance on China for major goods, notably on products like personal protective equipment and other items vital to combating the public health crisis.

“We shouldn’t have to rely on a foreign country, especially one that doesn’t share our interests or our values, in order to protect and provide our people during a national emergency,” Mr. Biden said.

The shortage of semiconductor chips, which are used in the manufacturing of cars, computers, and household appliances, came about after demand for auto chips plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic.

That led to a decrease in production, and demand has rallied back much more quickly than expected.

Mr. Biden met with members of Congress at the White House earlier Wednesday to talk through some of those issues.

“It was like the old days — people were actually on the same page,” the president said.

Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, said after the meeting he’s glad Mr. Biden is making the issue a priority.

“When I talked to Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken, the national security adviser Jake Sullivan, the president, the vice president - they get this, that we’ve got to focus on decoupling our supply chain from the Chinese Communist Party, particularly on medical, on rare earth minerals, but semiconductors as well,” Mr. McCaul said.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said lawmakers are crafting a legislative package to try to cut down reliance on imports, notably from China.

“We must also consider significant investments - even through emergency appropriations - to rebuild the capacity of the US semiconductor industry,” Mr. Schumer said. “Right now, semiconductor manufacturing is a dangerous weak spot in our economy and in our national security. Our auto industry is facing significant chip shortages.”

The share of global semiconductor production capacity in the U.S. has decreased from 37% in 1990 to 12% now, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.

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