Cantwell at Semiconductor Hearing: “If we do nothing, these shortages are just a sample of what is to come.”

March 23, 2022

Cantwell: “I…believe that chip security is as important as food security.” 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — During a hearing today with tech industry CEOs, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, (D-Wash.), Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, underscored the urgency for Congress to pass bipartisan innovation and competition legislation to help solve the lack of American semiconductor manufacturing threatening our economic and national security. 

“Semiconductors underpin nearly every aspect of our national and economic security,” said Senator Cantwell.  “And yet we are short on the amount of advanced logic chips building at scale here in the United States of America. That has to change. In fact, over 90% of the most advanced chips come from one island in the Pacific Ocean, Taiwan.”

At Sen. Cantwell’s invitation, the committee heard testimony from Pat Gelsinger, Chief Executive Officer, Intel Corporation; Sanjay Mehrotra, Chief Executive Officer, Micron; Tim Archer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Lam Research; and Preston Feight, Chief Executive Officer, PACCAR Inc.x

“I…believe that chip security is as important as food security,” she added.  “Our over-reliance on vulnerable global supply chains – without having a U.S. alternative ready to go – is an economic and national security risk.”

Sen. Cantwell spoke to the impact our semiconductor shortage is having on American consumers, pointing to the 41% rise in the cost of used cars as buyers are forced to wait months for new cars.

“So, anyone knows that the people who can afford to wait the extra six months for the new car probably aren’t the people who are really feeling the pain,” Cantwell said.  “It’s the person whose radiator blew out last week and just needs anything on four wheels to get them to their job. And that’s a basic used car that might have gone up [from] $5000 in cost, an additional 41%. And an extra $2000, --- taking that to $7000, is just a trip the family doesn’t get to take or maybe next month’s rent that can’t get paid. So the impacts of this are really affecting American consumers.” 

Watch Senator Cantwell explain the impact of the chip shortage on consumers [VIDEO] 

In an exchange with the CEO’s of Intel and PACCAR, Sen. Cantwell asked about the need for both next generation chips and for chips needed today to manufacture and deliver products through the supply chain to consumers.

“It’s just mind-boggling the progress that’s been made,” Gelsinger responded. “[A]s we think about application usages, like in autonomous vehicles, the most advanced AI applications, vision detection and …predictive management of driving, the most advanced mRNA sequencing capabilities, speech recognition capabilities,…5 and 6G connectivity, all of these depend on the most advanced technologies available, they need the highest performance computing at the lowest power capabilities to process these most advanced algorithms. We predict that by the end of the decade, we will have our first trillion transistor chip. And those kinds of capabilities are for many of the immersive experiences of the future that will define the future competitiveness of industries globally.”

“We need high end chips, but … the agricultural, the automotive, the truck, many other industries also need … more standard chips that keep affordability at the right level and performance at the right level to make all the cars, trucks, and tractors that we need in this country,” said Feight.  

Watch the exchange between Cantwell, Gelsinger and Feight [VIDEO]             

“It’s already been 288 days since this Senate passed USICA. It’s now time for us to not wait another day, but to get this done and keeps America’s leadership going in the right direction,” Sen. Cantwell urged.

Senator Cantwell has been calling for action on innovation and competition legislation.  Yesterday, Cantwell joined Majority Leader Schumer  and spoke on the Senate floor Monday night about the urgency for Congress to move forward into conference between the House and Senate bills. Sen. Cantwell led the Senate in passing the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), last year.

Cantwell’s opening statement: VIDEO and TRANSCRIPT

Read witness statements HERE

Cantwell Q and A with witnesses: VIDEO