A Chip off the Oregon Block
Oregon’s Silicon Forest is one of our state's biggest job creators and the beating heart of American semiconductor production. Oregonians shopping for a robotic vacuum this summer, browsing for a car on lots across the state, or any number of products probably aren’t thinking about semiconductors or domestic chip manufacturing.
But at the iconic, 90-year-old Stark’s Vacuums on Portland’s East Side, semiconductor chips are key ingredients in the modern vacuum. And this fourth-generation, family-run business needs the chips that are designed and produced right here in Oregon to meet consumer demand.
While most Americans may not have semiconductors top-of-mind, they’re certainly thinking about inflation and product availability, and these chips are integral parts of the technology we use each day. Semiconductor chips power our cars, smartphones, computers, appliances and more. Right now, the U.S. imports most of these chips from foreign countries like China. Supporting domestic chip production and innovation is a must to lower costs on these products for Oregonians and to create high-wage, high-skill jobs right here at home.
I am working to advance a bipartisan agreement that would help increase domestic production of semiconductors and help reduce our dependence on importing chips produced abroad. The agreement includes $50 billion in federal funding for research and domestic manufacturing, as well as an additional $10 billion to support cities in creating a foundation for researching, developing and manufacturing key technologies within the United States.
This is urgent business. Recently, the Associated Press reported that new vehicle sales in the United States tumbled more than 21% this spring due to the global semiconductor shortage. It has also been reported that General Motors has 95,000 partially finished vehicles in factories due to lack of available chips.
Here’s the bottom line: breakdowns in the supply chain during the pandemic have spotlighted the urgency of strengthening domestic semiconductor manufacturing, and reducing our dependence on foreign imports. And while Mitch McConnell and his Republican cronies in Congress continue to drag their feet on delivering help to U.S. workers and manufacturers, as co-chair of the state task force working to build an even stronger semiconductor industry here in Oregon and as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, I will continue fighting tooth and nail to get this deal across the finish line so we can create more good-paying red, white, and blue jobs and boost manufacturing.
The United States must rebalance our semiconductor supply chains away from China and towards domestic sources. I know that Oregon’s Silicon Forest stands at the ready to take up the baton, the Senate just needs to get us back in the race.