05.27.21

Statement On Passage Of CHIPS Funding As Part Of The U.S. Innovation And Competition Act

Mr. President, as the Senate prepares to vote on the US Innovation and Competition Act, I wanted to take moment to highlight the support this bill provides to the US Semiconductor Industry.  I want to commend the leadership that Senators Warner, Cornyn and Schumer have shown in highlighting the need for our country to ensure that we maintain leading edge manufacture capabilities in the United States.  I strongly support the over $50 billion provided in this bill for the Department of Commerce to join in partnerships with US semiconductor companies. 

My history with microelectronics spans my career in the Senate, and I can remember when Tom Watson selected Essex Junction, as the location for an IBM “fab” to produce some of the first generations of mass produced integrated circuit memory and processing chips. Of course, it revolutionized computing. Over the years, Vermonters working out of Essex led the way in inventing new kinds of chips and new ways to make chips, at the same time making Vermont the state with the most patents per capita.

Over that time, I heard again and again from national security leaders from both political parties that one of the biggest threats facing the United States was that our revolutionary technology was threatened by the production of chips increasingly moving to foreign countries. While some of those countries closely cooperate with the United States, being off-shore provides an inherent risk of the chips being compromised by malicious actors or even facilities themselves being rendered inoperable, one way or another.

I helped create a program called Trusted Foundry within the Department of Defense to provide critical chips for national security needs that we knew were untampered with from start to finish and were made right in the United States. Because the national security needs alone could never be produced at an economically-practical scale, we located Trusted Foundry in commercial fabs, including the one in Essex. Today that factory still produces both commercial and national security chips, particularly chips used for radio frequency or RF functions.

With this bill, we continue the endeavor to produce chips in the United States at a commercially viable level.  We hope that the production can supply our national security needs, by geographically keeping production domestic, thereby increasing our confidence that the chips have not been tampered with.

Through the Appropriations Committee, I will continue oversight of this important area. We will ensure that these grants are administered well and build toward a better future. And we will ensure they are part of a whole-of-government effort, including contributions from the Department of Defense and other agencies from their own authorizations and budgets. Thanks to this bill, I look forward to a brighter, and more technologically capable future.

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