April 06, 2022

Congress must pass an innovation bill to fight inflation, boost national security

Reps. Jim Himes and Mikie Sherrill are Democrats from Connecticut and New Jersey, respectively, and members of the New Democrat Coalition. 

The U.S. economy is rebounding from Covid, showing strength and resiliency, but real economic challenges remain. Due to the global pandemic and weak supply chains for critical goods like microchips and semiconductors, American consumers are feeling the stress of inflation at the supermarket and used car lots. The good news is that Congress is working to find agreement on a bipartisan innovation bill that addresses these issues by strengthening our supply chains, supercharging American innovation and helping America outcompete nations like China. 

We must take urgent action to make critical investments in American innovation, reduce our reliance on despotic regimes and expand economic cooperation with our allies across the globe. The bipartisan innovation bill will not only be good for our economy and our pocketbooks, it’s also critical for our national security. The Russian war in Ukraine and escalating Chinese aggression toward Taiwan show why Congress must swiftly send this legislation to the President’s desk. 

Following World War II, the U.S. established a global rules-based order that values democracy, free markets, and human rights. We made a generational investment in groundbreaking basic research that has driven American innovation since. We invented the microchip and supplied the world with this critical technology. Now, however, the U.S. finds itself overly reliant on external partnerships to maintain and increase our technological edge. Experts in national security and intelligence recognize that our investment in research and development is insufficient and our unrivaled human capital is underutilized. 

In addition, the security of our supply chains is under threat as Russia invades a sovereign neighbor that is a key agricultural exporter and China threatens the independence of Taiwan, which supplies 90% of the world’s chips. Depending on critical materials from autocrats, whether minerals from Russia or semiconductors from China, puts the security of the U.S. and our allies at risk. In just a few weeks, we’ve seen how Europe’s dependence on Russian energy has made it vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and limited its ability to take action against a murderous tyrant. We could be in a similar bind if China invades Taiwan, causing us to lose our largest source of semiconductors.  

The New Democrat Coalition led the charge for this legislation and helped pass a strong innovation bill that will strengthen our supply chains, advance American scientific and technological leadership, and ensure America leads the global economic order. America once led the semiconductor market, and we can do it again. The bipartisan innovation bill will keep us competitive by increasing manufacturing everywhere and helping American businesses supply the world. It invests in research — including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, and advanced energy — and domestic microchip and semiconductor manufacturing. 

The U.S. is already increasing domestic production. Intel recently announced a new chips production facility in Columbus, Ohio, and this legislation will turbocharge these efforts. Ramping up production at home will enable us to meet high demand and reduce inflationary pressures, produce more goods, and prepare for the future so events on the other side of the world don’t impact Americans’ lives. Failure to boost production at home and in allied nations leaves us vulnerable to supply disruptions. 

This bill will also help bolster diplomatic ties with Taiwan and respond to the Chinese government’s genocide of the Uyghurs through sanctions, export control restrictions, and multilateralism. By advancing this legislation, we can defend democracy, diversify and secure global supply chains, help American businesses relocate operations back to the U.S. and allied nations, and reinforce trading partnerships with nations like South Korea and Australia. When America leads, our world is safer.  

By quickly passing and enacting the bipartisan innovation bill, we will set America up to lead the 21st century innovation economy with democratic values, create long-term supply chain stability in an uncertain world, and counter the influence of tyrants and autocrats around the world. This is America’s moment to lead. We can’t let it pass. 

By:  Reps. Mikie Sherrill and Jim Himes
Source: CNBC