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

Southwest plays a pivotal role in one of the nation’s largest semiconductor ecosystems

WASHINGTON, D.C. — During a hearing today with tech industry CEOs, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), 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 in her opening statement. “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. 

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

Senator Cantwell spoke to the impact our semiconductor shortage is having on American consumers, pointing to the soaring 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.” [VIDEO]

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

“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 Preston Feight, CEO of PACCAR Inc, which is based in Bellevue. [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,” Senator Cantwell urged.

Senator Cantwell is leading the effort to pass the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act which seeks to advance and solidify the United States’ leadership in scientific and technological innovation through increased investments in the discovery, creation and manufacturing of technology critical to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness.

Increased investment in semiconductor manufacturing would help spur job creation in Washington state.

Southwest Washington supports the greater Portland-Vancouver region’s reputation as a “Silicon Forest.” The region plays a pivotal role in one of the nation’s largest semiconductor ecosystems, where design is co-located with advanced manufacturing.

The region is home to over 30,000 jobs in computers and electronics, with over $10 billion in international exports and over $35 billion in sales revenue in the computer and electronics sector. Washington State as a whole has the second highest concentration of STEM jobs in the United States.

Washington state semiconductor companies in the “Silicon Forest” include Analog Devices (Camas), Kokusai (Vancouver), Kyocera (Vancouver), nLight (Camas), SEH America (Vancouver), Silicon Forest Electronics (Vancouver), and WaferTech (Camas).

A Video of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement is HERE, transcript HERE. Video of Senator Cantwell’s Q&A with the witnesses is available HERE, transcript HERE.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s closing statement is available HERE, transcript HERE.

All witness statements are available on the hearing page HERE.