Some people were surprised when President Joe Biden invited me to the Oval Office for a meeting – although I was not. >From the campaign trail to the halls of Congress, the president and I have been vocal about our conflicting ideological convictions. We share little in common, least of all our voting records. But, when it comes to creating jobs for our fellow Pennsylvanians, we are on the same team.
For too long, hardworking Pennsylvanians watched American companies – and their jobs – flee our commonwealth for China. Our manufacturing industry bore the cost of mounting regulations – and families paid the price. This devastating cycle spurred widespread ramifications in local communities and across the country.
To correct course, the United States must prioritize pragmatic solutions to end the Chinese Communist Party’s grip on manufacturing and return family-sustaining jobs back home. It’s no small feat. Right now, the Chinese government controls many of the materials used in the production of vital items – from pharmaceuticals and medical devices to technology and defense weapon systems.
As I discussed with President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and a small group of bipartisan congressional leaders, resilient and secure supply chains are the key to Pennsylvania’s success in the 21st century.
In many cases, this big problem comes down to a tiny chip. As technology continues to advance, semiconductors are an increasingly integral piece of our manufacturing capacity. Chips are a central component in everything from cellphones and laptops to autonomous vehicles. The pandemic-era shift to working from home and subsequent technology demand have incited a global semiconductor shortage that is likely to create major economic consequences for consumers and workers alike.
Despite Americans’ reliance on chips, nearly 90 percent of the world’s semiconductors are produced outside of the United States. To secure our supply chains and ensure that they can withstand global interruptions, we must restore semiconductor manufacturing back to America and to our allies. As one achievable solution, I supported bipartisan, bicameral legislation to incentivize chip manufacturing on American soil, creating jobs and strengthening our national security.
Another step is prioritizing the mining of rare earth metals that are used to produce semiconductors in mineral-rich Pennsylvania and similar regions. China currently dominates this crucial industry and monopolizes the supply chain. The previous administration began groundbreaking work to source rare earth metals from coal and coal ash, valuable products of our commonwealth’s energy legacy. To end our dependence on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the United States must continue to invest in innovation that will equip our nation’s capacity to capture and process these minerals domestically.
Securing our supply chains not only will safeguard our economy, but also will protect our public health. In addition to the vulnerability of relying on medical devices made in China, the pandemic has revealed the urgent need to ensure that America can produce an essential supply of medicines. As I told President Biden, the American people can no longer be beholden to the CCP for generic antibiotics and other widely used pharmaceuticals. Now more than ever, we must act.
Last year on the China Task Force, I helped to develop more than 400 bipartisan and achievable solutions to counter the CCP and equip Americans to lead in global innovation. Now, it’s time to put to our playbook to use.
While the CCP has been exerting undue influence for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed this hostile regime’s growing threat to the American people, our national security, and our way of life. The clock is ticking.
Like many Pennsylvanians, I recognize that the daunting path ahead requires teamwork. I stepped into President Biden’s office with a plan to overcome barriers and to create jobs at home in Pennsylvania.
Though America is divided – east and west, rural and urban, red and blue – we are one nation. Together, as a united front, we must take the steps today to equip Americans to lead the innovation of tomorrow. Despite our differences, we’re playing on the same team.