The United States made a strategic mistake in allowing manufacturing and production of a quintessentially American industry – semiconductors – to be conducted offshores, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said on Tuesday during a Washington Post Live session.

“We did invent the semiconductor chip … and we said the production didn’t matter. This was 50 years of misguided thinking, and the reality is we should care about production in America,” Rep. Khanna said.

The United States, he explained, was not building in its industrial capacity that requires government partnership in the workforce and with industry to provide financing that other countries were providing to have the production offshore.

“We thought to let the markets do what they want, and let globalization run its course. That, in my view, was a mistake,” Rep. Khanna said.

The CHIPS and Science Act – signed into law by President Biden back in August – provides $52 billion in Federal subsidies for domestic semiconductor production. The bill received significant bipartisan support in both legislative chambers, with the House approving the measure by a vote of 243-187, and the Senate passing the bill on a vote of 64-33.

The loss of production and the nation’s desire to remain a leader in technology and production led to bipartisan and bicameral support for this legislation, Rep. Khanna said.

In addition, the congressman explained that because production moved off-shore, the innovation left as well.

While the United States still has much advantageous science, technology, and research at its hands, there is innovation in production, and “that is something our adversaries like China have been doing at scale,” he said.

“I do think if we bring back production, if we are focused on making things in our country again, and if we’re focused on investing in our workforce, that we can make progress in getting communities revitalized and getting people back into the workforce,” Rep. Khanna said.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.