A key Congressman on the House Armed Services Committee spoke in support of three technology bills Friday, expressing optimism with the “bipartisan and bicameral” legislation as the legislative calendar for this session of Congress winds down.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., called the Endless Frontiers Act a “generational investment in R&D.” The bill introduced in May by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., invests $100 billion over five years in research in AI and machine learning; high performance computing; robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing; and other key technologies.
Rep. Gallagher, the co-chairman of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, was an original co-sponsor of the identical House bill introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif in May. The House legislation has five other Democratic cosponsors and three additional Republican cosponsors.
The Wisconsin congressman also spoke in support of the CHIPS for America Act, a bill which provides tax incentives to companies in advanced chip manufacturing. Members of the Texas congressional delegation Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Michael McCaul, both Republicans, introduced the bill earlier this summer with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif.
The Department of Commerce announced in May that the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) would be building a $12 billion semiconductor facility in Arizona. The CHIPS Act directs the Secretary of Commerce to create a $10 billion Federal match program to pair with incentives provided by state and local governments to lure companies to build additional semiconductor foundries with advanced manufacturing capabilities in the U.S.
“The CHIPS Act is crucial,” said Rep. Gallagher, speaking at an online event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute on Sept. 18. “If you asked all of the tech geeks that are really involved in this space, semiconductors and chips are at the top of the list of things that we need to invest in.”
The Wisconsin congressman said he is “optimistic about the CHIPS Act,” a bill “starting off from a bipartisan and bicameral position.”
Rep. Gallagher then cited a third piece of bipartisan legislation— the USA Telecommunications Act— a bill which increases funding for Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) research and development for 5G networks.
Sen. Warner has said Open RAN “gives a great opportunity for the West writ large and American companies, in particular, to compete on a very successful basis against Huawei going forward.”
The geopolitical context of the technology bills was not lost on Rep. Gallagher.
“We need to think long and hard with our international partners, and not just Nokia and Ericsson, but all the countries that have a role to play in this, starting with our Five Eyes partners [Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom], about ‘How can we better play that offensive game?’” said Rep. Gallagher, of the effort to provide an alternative to Huawei’s networks. “How can we pool our resources together in order to convince non-aligned countries to make key decisions in the next few years that will have impact for decades to come?”
Rep. Gallagher said it “starts with some sort of industrial policy here in the United States.” Of the bills already introduced, he said, “I sense a bipartisan momentum behind a variety of these initiatives.”
“Regardless of what happens in November there’s going to be some inevitable momentum behind some of these proposals,” he said.