The world has changed lot in the last 20-25 years. We had a consensus on China in the 1990’s that was wrong. Josh Gottheimer and I were in the Clinton White House and we were part of an experiment that failed. And that was engaging this communist country that we thought was emerging into capitalism and then hopefully, democracy and then hopefully, partnership. Maybe a worthy experiment – but we know better now.
And what we understand now with crystal clarity is that it is contrary to America’s national security interests for our country to be dependent on an adversary for something that is a critical component of everything that matters in our lives.
There is an enormous opportunity in the United States to become the leader in chip manufacturing again. In my district in New Jersey – which is a rural, suburban district – you may not think of it as a big manufacturing district, but we have chip manufacturing facilities in my district making facial recognition technology for cellphones; safety equipment for cars that will detect when a pedestrian is crossing in front of you. There is enormous potential if we make the kinds of decisions that other advanced economies are making to invest in these critical industries.
And it’s not just microchips. I would add that the arguments we’re making here today can be applied to a lot of other critical materials and resources in our economy. Another example, polysilicon. You don’t hear a lot about that. It is a critical component of every single solar panel used in the United States.
And about a 100% of the supply comes not just from China, but from the Xinjiang region of China where the Uyghur population is being persecuted to extinction. I don’t want to have to choose between clean energy and human rights. I don’t want the solar panels on my roof to come at the cost of slave labor. And the only way to avoid that choice is to make these kinds of investments. So, we have to make sure this gets in the NDAA.
And we need to pass additional legislation. I have a bipartisan bill with Representative Kinzinger, for example, that takes this concept and expands it to other critical industries by creating an office in the Department of Commerce that will make these critical investments in our economic and national security.