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Biden administration issuing new childcare guidance for semiconductor chips subsidy program

The Biden administration on Monday will release new guidance for its $52 billion U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and research program detailing how companies seeking major awards must provide affordable high-quality childcare.

The Commerce Department plans to begin accepting applications in late June for a $39 billion manufacturing subsidy program. The law also creates a 25% investment tax credit for building chip plants, estimated to be worth $24 billion.

The workforce guidance document seen by Reuters says the Commerce Department is “not requiring or expecting applicants to provide free care” but adds that those seeking funding “should strongly consider defraying the price of care such that it is within reach for low- and medium-income households.”

The department in the guidance strongly encourages the use of project labor agreements in connection with construction projects and said applicants that do not commit to using an agreement “will be required to submit workforce continuity plans and show that they have taken other measures to reduce the risk of delays in project delivery.”

The agreements are collective bargaining agreements between building trade unions and contractors.

The document says workforce development plans must detail “specific commitments of proactive employer engagement and mobilization and efforts to train and hire workers into good jobs that offer competitive wages, including by offering programs to expand employment opportunities for economically disadvantaged individuals.”

“We won’t be able to build the semiconductor workforce needed unless more of America’s workers have the chance to get into these jobs,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement included with the guidance.

Some Republicans have criticized Commerce Department conditions including childcare requirements.

The department last month said it would require companies to share excess profits in some instances.

Semiconductor companies have already announced more than 40 new projects including nearly $200 billion in private investments to increase domestic production.

Japan Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers eye ban on TikTok, others if used improperly

A group of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers plans to compile a proposal next month urging the government to ban social networking services such as TikTok if they are used for disinformation campaigns, an LDP lawmaker said on Monday.

Many U.S. lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration to ban the popular Chinese-owned social media app, alleging the app could be used for data collection, content censorship and harm to children’s mental health.

“If it’s verified that an app has been intentionally used by a certain party of a certain country for their influence operations with malice …, promptly halting the service should be considered,” Norihiro Nakayama told Reuters in an interview.

“Making it clear that operations can be halted will help keep app operators in check as it means TikTok’s 17 million users (in Japan), for example, will lose their access. It will also lead to sense of security for users,” Nakayama said.

Nakayama, a senior member of a ruling party lawmakers’ group looking into ways to enhance Japan’s economic security, said that proposal will not be targeting at any particular platform.

A string of Western governments and institutions have banned TikTok in recent weeks, including the UK parliament, the Dutch and Belgian administrations and the New Zealand parliament.

In Japan, the use of TikTok and other social networking services (SNSs) are prohibited on government devices that handle confidential information.

Nakayama said further restrictions should be considered only after looking into their data-handling and other operations.

“I believe we first need to make it possible for people outside to firmly grasp how data is being handled whenever concerns are raised,” Nakayama said.

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