Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said on Sept. 15 that the United States’ supply chains are not resilient, and strengthening those supply chains is going to be critical for U.S. competitiveness going forward.

During a Politico event on Sept. 15, Sen. Peters described how the shortage of semiconductor chips and the overreliance on foreign manufacturers for critical supplies poses a huge concern for the United States.

“Although we have highly efficient supply chains, they are not resilient, and they’re not resilient to disruptions,” Sen. Peters said during the event. “We’ve got to create more resilience in our supply chains and particularly critical equipment, whether it’s medical supplies or as was mentioned, chips, which are basically in all of our products.”

Sen. Peters noted that as production for generic products moves overseas, the supply chain “is actually very vulnerable because you have fewer and fewer manufacturers that make those products.” The chip shortage exposes this vulnerability, Sen. Peters said, which has become evident in the shortage of products from cars to washing machines – which rely on chips to function.

“We’ve got to be looking not just at the future and making sure supply chains are there for the new cutting edge products, but that we have a steady stream of those products coming into manufacturing,” Sen. Peters said. “I’m a person who believes you cannot be a great country if you don’t actually make things. Manufacturing is really the heart and soul of who we are as a country.”

Sen. Peters also offered that the Senate’s passage of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act this year aims to counter rising technological competition from China, including $52 billion of funding to support domestic semiconductor operations.

However, even with these new investments in domestic semiconductor operations, Sen. Peters stressed that the regulations need to be flexible enough to support ongoing innovation.

“We have to make sure we have a conducive regulatory environment. The investment’s there, our private companies want to invest, our tech companies want to invest, tremendous strides are being made in the United States, but if these things end up being manufactured overseas, that’s not a good thing for our country,” Sen. Peters said. “We have to understand that our strength is going to be in flexibility and innovation and how do we incorporate that into our regulatory framework.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.