Small Chips, Big Impact: Securing Our Semiconductors
As our world becomes more and more digitized, the smallest electronic components can have the biggest impact. Take for example the tiny semiconductor, which is smaller than a postage stamp but contains billions of transistors, each one 10,000 times thinner than a human hair.
Semiconductors, or “chips,” are one of the most impactful products in the world. Our national security depends on access to semiconductors, which power our telecommunications, critical infrastructure, and defense systems, from cell phones to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The country that leads in semiconductor innovation and production will lead in the technologies of the future, including artificial intelligence, 5G, and advanced manufacturing.
Our state has been home to many semiconductor facilities since Texas Instruments was founded here in North Texas in the early 1950s. Today, Texas semiconductor facilities include the likes of Texas-based companies like NI and global giants like IBM and Intel. Thanks in large part to Texas’ semiconductor facilities, America leads the world in semiconductor design. However, companies in Asia lead the world in semiconductor production. The greatest growth has been in China, which aims to dominate the entire global semiconductor supply chain.
The coronavirus pandemic made very clear the dangers of relying on China’s supply chains, which also produce the majority of America’s personal protective equipment. If America becomes too dependent on China to produce our semiconductors, we are at China’s mercy should it suddenly cut off our access to semiconductors entirely—securing Beijing the upper hand in every domain of warfare.
Semiconductors are essential to our national security, economy, and our response to future crises like the coronavirus. The need to fund America’s research, development, and production of these critical microchips has never been greater.
Many of us in Congress are addressing this threat. Last year, I proudly cosponsored the bipartisan “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act.” The CHIPS for America Act would restore American leadership in semiconductor manufacturing through federal incentives for advanced research, development, and domestic production capacity, creating American jobs and strengthening our supply chains. Earlier this month, Texas Senator John Cornyn, who helped introduce the Senate version of the CHIPS for America Act, came to North Texas to discuss the importance of bringing semiconductor production back to the U.S. Another friend and fellow Texan, Rep. Michael McCaul, led the drafting of last year’s “China Task Force Report,” which includes over 400 recommendations for Congress and the Administration to protect America’s global leadership against China’s rise.
I have written to you many times about the national need to counter China. Today, part of this battle is playing out on the smallest of scales, over electronic devices with features not much larger than a molecule. Semiconductors are the lifeblood of everything from home computers to advanced weapons systems, and their significance will only grow. I remain committed to seeing ambitious action taken to secure our common defense and ensure that the most advanced chips in the world are made in America for generations to come.