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New Dems Urge Swift Action on Supply Chain Crisis

December 14, 2021 by Dan McCue
New Dems Urge Swift Action on Supply Chain Crisis
New Democrat Coalition Chair Suzan DelBene with the coalition's two newest members, Reps. Shontel Brown, of Ohio, and Nikema Williams, of Georgia.

WASHINGTON — Congress must take swift and decisive action to shore up the nation’s supply chains if it wants to keep creating jobs and ensure America leads the global economy, the New Democrat Coalition said Tuesday.

Specifically, the largest ideological caucus in the House is urging its colleagues to advance these priorities as the chamber begins negotiations over the Senate-passed U.S. Innovation and Competition Act in conference committee.

“New Dems came to Congress to deliver forward-looking, innovative solutions that invest in America’s future,” said NDC Chair Suzan DelBene, of Washington state, in a written statement. 

“We know that folks in our districts are excited that our economy is growing, jobs are coming back, and wages are rising,” she continued. “But, we also know they are concerned about higher prices at the pump and in their grocery stores. 

“President Biden and Democrats in Congress have taken bold steps to address these challenges, but there is more to be done,” DelBene added.

The New Dems priorities include securing the nation’s supply chain for critical goods and technologies, creating jobs and spurring innovation, and investing in scientific research and next-gen tech innovation.

They are urging expedient action through regular order as Congress reaches a final agreement on the U.S Innovation and Competition Act and advances a bill to the president’s desk by early next year. 

Though a full list of the coalition’s priorities can be found here, some highlights include: 

Secure U.S. Supply Chains for Critical Goods and Technologies

  • Increase and secure the supply of semiconductors and microchips and support domestic manufacturing of these critical goods and technologies, including mature semiconductor technologies like those needed for cars and trucks, by fully funding the CHIPS for America Act.
  • Work with our allies, close trading partners and U.S. businesses to diversify and secure reliable global supply chains for critical goods, including by helping American small businesses relocate foreign operations back to the U.S. and, as appropriate, partner nations that share our values.
  • Invest in advanced manufacturing and workforce development, including through increased funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
  • Create a dedicated office within the Department of Commerce, improve data coordination and insight, and dedicate resources to strengthen supply chains, help prevent and respond to shortages, and support domestic manufacturing of critical goods.

Create Jobs and Spur Innovation Across the Country

  • Establish new innovation centers in regions outside of existing technology hubs through a competitive grant program that awards grants for scientific and engineering research and related infrastructure, skilled workforce training and economic development projects.
  • Direct a portion of increased scientific research funding to these new innovation centers to maximize the impact of federal investments and unleash technology innovation and job creation.
  • Prioritize a competitive selection process that promotes regional diversity and communities with untapped resources, as well as the potential to quickly build and support the growth of the local tech industry.
  • Expand graduate research fellowships and programs focused on undergraduate research opportunities at historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities to train the next generation of job creators, scientists and technologists.

Increase Investments in Scientific and Engineering Research

  • Significantly increase federal research and development funding so America leads in innovation and the creation and commercialization of next-generation technologies.
  • Enhance basic science and engineering research at the National Science Foundation, as well as empower researchers and experts to pursue the full range of emerging science and technologies.
  • Establish and fully fund a Directorate of Science and Engineering Solutions at the NSF and ensure existing translational research activities, including through the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and NIST, are appropriately funded and directed, in order to accelerate translational research into commercial technology applications.

Strengthen American Global Leadership

  • Recommit the United States to global leadership and support of multilateral organizations and the rules-based international order to promote American values and ingenuity abroad, and strengthen ties with our allies and close trading partners.
  • Leverage and enhance diplomatic, trade and economic tools with strong congressional oversight to strengthen American competitiveness in the global economy and meet the challenge of the People’s Republic of China’s unfair trade practices, market manipulations, censorship and surveillance, as well as human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
  • Support international collaboration on research security standards and partnerships with allied countries and take stronger steps to secure U.S. intellectual property.

Rep. Scott Peters, of California, the coalition’s vice chair of policy, said as his district encompasses San Diego, a world-renowned science and technology hub, he’s well aware of the “immense importance of innovation.”

“It is critical to our country’s economic success and national security to ramp up our research, development and production,” Peters said. “The priorities our coalition announced today would reinforce U.S. supply chains, create new jobs in innovation, increase support for scientific discovery and promote American global leadership. These policies are key to out-compete countries like China, and will ensure the long-term prosperity and standing of the United States.” 

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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