Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va. – who know better than many about national security risks – likes the recently enacted CHIPS Act both as an eventual cure for semiconductor supply chain disruptions, and as a way to create effective competition against suppliers from China that pose potential national security risks to the United States.

The CHIPS Act – one part of the Chips and Science Act signed by President Biden in late August – provides $52 billion to help incentivize semiconductor makers to build new manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

Speaking at a Washington Post Live event on Oct. 13, Sen. Warner talked about how the new law will create jobs in the U.S., but focused more on how it will cut U.S. reliance on foreign- made semiconductor chips and supply chains that pose national security risks.

“We’ve seen the People’s Republic of China, controlled by the Communist Party, dramatically increased their chip production,” the senator said. “So this is an area where it is about not only making sure we have some of that supply chain located not only in America, but also in allied nations.”

Sen. Warner also talked about how the coronavirus pandemic revealed the fragility of supply chains for semiconductors, among other goods.

“We had been kind of asleep at the switch for a number of years,” he said. “Pre-COVID, when supply chains moved relatively smoothly, there wasn’t the awareness of the challenge that the Peoples Republic of China posed, it didn’t prove to be a problem.”

“During COVID, we saw supply chains disrupted [and] one of the reasons why the price of automobiles went up so much in the last couple of years is because we had tens of thousands  of cars that were made in America that were sitting in lots because they couldn’t be delivered to the customers because there was a semiconductor chip shortage,” he said.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.