Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Instructing Committees To Begin Work On Legislation To Strengthen U.S. Semiconductor Industry, Enable The United States To Out-Compete China And Create American Jobs

February 24, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding a new push for legislation that would boost American competitiveness by investing in our economy and our workers, leverage our alliances abroad, and stop once and for all China's predatory practices. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Everyone knows our country and our economy faces daunting challenges beyond COVID-19. And while our two parties don’t agree on a whole lot, both Republicans and Democrats know that one of the main challenges of the 21st Century will be competing with and confronting China.

The roots of this challenge go back decades. When I was first elected to the Senate and visiting all corners of New York, I saw entire industries going under as a result of unfair Chinese competition and the manipulation of the currency by China.

For decades, China has effectively cheated and stolen its way to economic growth: engaging in brazen theft of American intellectual property via cyber operations, forced technology transfers, the dumping of cheap goods into our economy, and, for a while, the pernicious manipulation of its currency. American workers, academics, and businesses of all sizes have paid the price to the tune of millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.

More recently, China has directed its energy, and mercantilist policies, towards beating the United States and likeminded countries to the pole position on all the leading technologies of the 21st Century. And when I say China, I mean the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party. The American people have nothing against the Chinese people.

I have made no secret of America’s failure to hold the Chinese government accountable, and that has been a failure of both parties—both parties—in the past. After another bout of tough talk, we are not much closer to reining in China’s predatory behavior than we were four years ago.

That is why yesterday I asked the chairs and members of our relevant Senate committees to begin work on legislation to enable the United States to out-compete China and create American jobs.

At the core of this effort will be the Endless Frontier Act. This is bipartisan legislation that Senator Young and I have drafted together over a year ago. It would surge resources into the National Science Foundation and the Department of Commerce to advance American innovation in a number of critical technologies. 

We must also consider significant investments—even through emergency appropriations—to rebuild the capacity of the US semiconductor industry. This too is a bipartisan effort that Senators Cotton and Cornyn joined with Senator Warner and I — and we placed the original authorizing legislation in last year’s defense bill.

Right now, semiconductor manufacturing is a dangerous weak spot in our economy and in our national security. Our auto industry is facing a significant chip shortages. This is a technology the United States created. We ought to be leading the world in it. The same goes for building-out of 5G, the next generation telecommunications network. There is bipartisan interest on both these issues.

Overall, the new legislation must achieve three goals: one, boost American competitiveness by investing in our economy and our workers; two, leverage our alliances abroad; and three, stop once and for all China's predatory practices.

A number of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have strong, bipartisan ideas on these issues, including Senators Menendez and Risch, Brown and Toomey, Cantwell and Wicker. I hope we can all work together to craft a bill that meets that moment.

It is my intention is to put legislation on this topic on the Senate floor for a vote this spring. And I urge the committees to continue their work in a bipartisan way so we can have strong legislation before us.

It so happens that, today, on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, significant work will be done on these same issues. President Biden has invited a bipartisan group of lawmakers to the White House to discuss concerns with the US supply chain, particularly the semiconductor shortage, and will sign an executive order aimed at plugging the holes. I applaud both the meeting and the executive order. The new administration is taking a strong first step in shoring up Americas critical supply chains and putting a spotlight on American competiveness.

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