Cantwell Continues Drumbeat Calling for Action on Innovation and Competition Legislation
March 24, 2022
In latest floor speech Cantwell calls on colleagues to allow Senate vote to move bipartisan discussions forward as chip shortage impacts Americans’ daily lives
“We're talking about real impacts that are happening in people's lives today. And some here are cavalier about these costs. They think this is all about how long are they going to wait until they give the President of the United States another victory. And that is a wrong approach.”
“So we need to quit wasting our time here. [C]ome and make your vote - make your vote -- but quit holding up a bipartisan discussion by both houses on facing a supply chain shortage that is affecting Americans every single day.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. —On Thursday, March 24, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, again took to the Senate floor to implore colleagues to allow the Senate to begin bipartisan discussions with the House on critical innovation and competition legislation. Sen. Cantwell shepherded the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) through the Commerce Committee and to passage by the Senate nearly 300 days ago. The House passed its version of the legislation, the COMPETES Act, last Fall. In the last hour, Majority Leader Schumer announced that an agreement had been reached to allow the Senate to hold the next vote necessary to move the legislation forward.
“[We] estimated a car, used car, or truck that cost $5,000, a year ago now cost $7,000. So a 41% increase,” Sen. Cantwell said. “That's $2,000 that a young family that could be going on a vacation, or taking care of something in the house, or maybe making a down payment on a home, or buying groceries, or taking care of rent. Now they have an extra $2,000 [cost], if they just want to get a car to get them to and from work. We're talking about real impacts that are happening in real people's lives today. And some here are cavalier about these costs. They think this is all about how long are they going to wait until they give the President of the United States another victory. And that is a wrong approach.”
“So we need to quit wasting our time here,” Sen. Cantwell implored. “…[C]ome and make your vote - make your vote, but quit holding up a bipartisan discussion by both houses on facing a supply chain shortage that is affecting Americans every single day. And if you do nothing, this demand is going to continue to increase and we are going to continually be falling behind. So I plead with my colleagues, put this aside and vote the way you want to vote. But let's get to conference. Let's show the American people that we can collaborate on solving our supply chain problems; on trying to be serious about sending signals to the automotive industry, to the communication sector, to the national security sector. Bring the supply chain back, put it here in the United States of America and let's get busy doing what we know how to do best and that's innovate and make America competitive."
“So I implore my colleagues to come to the floor and support sending the bill back to the house telling them that we want to go to conference and get into conference as soon as possible. Those who want to delay this are just delaying the United States in our competition with the world in producing and manufacturing great products. If you don't have the best chips, if you don't have the manufacturing, you're not going to lead.”
“What are we waiting for? What are we waiting for? We know there's demand, we know that we can make these chips. We know, as one of my colleagues said, if something happened with Taiwan, where they're making a lot of the leading-edge chips, the tables could be turned on the United States. What would we do then? So we have to get busy here and work on this legislation, and start focusing on the fact that it is affecting our consumers right now.”
“Now, I will debate anybody on either side of the aisle who do not want to move forward on this bill, because they don't like the approach. Maybe they don't like the concept of the United States making an investment here.”
“I know the American people get this in an intuitive fashion, the information age is run by semiconductors that increase their capacity to translate more to translate in the automobile, the voice activated commands to do the intricacies of communications. As I know, the presiding officer knows on the issues of communication and national security, we have to depend on these for our national security.“
Yesterday, Sen. Cantwell chaired a hearing with tech CEOs about the importance of CHIPS legislation which passed as part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) of 2021 and the America COMPETES Act of 2022. Sen. Cantwell joined Majority Leader Schumer earlier this week and spoke on the Senate floor Monday night about the urgency for Congress to move bipartisan innovation competitiveness legislation forward.