Senate Vote Marks Official Start to Conference on Competition and Innovation Legislation
April 28, 2022
Cantwell implores negotiators to work swiftly as semiconductor supply chain problems persist
WASHINGTON, D.C.— With a vote of 67 to 27, the U.S. Senate today agreed to go to conference on the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), H.R.4521 and negotiate an agreement with the House of Representatives on a final bill. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, a key member of the Conference Committee, spoke on the Senate floor and stressed the urgency to work swiftly.
“It's has been 324 days since the Senate passed this bill - June 8, 2021 - and it's been 488 days since we authorized the CHIPS program,” said Sen. Cantwell. “I'm here to implore my colleagues to get this done today and to say that we need to move faster.”
“We just heard yesterday from Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who said, even in Ukraine, weapon replacement is being hindered by a lack of chips,” Sen. Cantwell said, referring to comments the Secretary made during a committee hearing Wednesday. “[I]f you're serious about America's competition, Americans being allowed to build more and invest more in the United States, onshoring of our manufacturing supply chain, our competitiveness, then you want to vote yes and go to conference… [I]t's clear that our European and Asian counterparts aren't waiting. They're moving ahead trying to deal with the supply chain shortage…”
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During the Wednesday committee hearing, Secretary Raimondo stressed the national urgency for Congress to unleash investment in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing.
“I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this is a national emergency; it is threatening our national security, as well as our economic security,” said Sec. Raimondo. “It has to happen now. And if you want these companies…to expand facilities in America, you must pass the CHIPS Act, USICA, and do it quickly.”
“So the risks of inaction are too great to ignore,” Sen. Cantwell said. “The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act is clearly part of our supply chain solutions.”
Cantwell, a champion of the USICA legislation, has for months called for Congress to act on the bill. She spoke on the Senate floor on March 28, 2022; March 24, 2022; March 21, 2022; February 10, 2022, and February 4, 2022. The senator chaired a Commerce Committee hearing with tech CEOs on the importance of U.S. investment in America’s domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research.
Ahead of the Senate vote that set the stage for the conference committee, Cantwell urged her colleagues to come to the table to negotiate a final bill. On March 24, she spoke on the Senate floor about the impact the semiconductor supply chain shortage is having on the price of used cars and delivered remarks on the Senate floor about the urgency to appoint a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills.
Cantwell led the USICA legislation to pass out of the Commerce Committee on May 12, 2021, and then managed the bill on the floor of the United States Senate which initially passed on June 8, 2021.
Along with Sen. Cantwell, the Senate Democratic conferees include Commerce Committee members Sens. Tester (D-Mont.), Baldwin (D-Wis.), Peters (D-Mich.), Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and Warnock (D-Ga.).
View Senator Cantwell’s floor speech Video and Transcript.