WASHINGTON, D.C. – The manufacturing of semiconductors must be increased in the United States to protect economic security, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said Tuesday afternoon.
Portman, a Republican from Cincinnati, said he recently attended a bipartisan meeting at the White House about issues with supply chains. A global shortage of semiconductors, or computer chips, already has limited manufacturing by American companies, he said.
“We’ve already had 120,000 cars not produced this year that would have been produced but for the lack of semiconductors,” Portman said during a conference call with reporters.
Semiconductors are used in all computerized devices including cellphones, computers, cars, medical equipment, weapons systems and more. Increased demand throughout the past year along with the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the shortage.
In response, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that called for a review of domestic manufacturing and supply chains for chips, large capacity batteries used in electric cars, pharmaceuticals, and rare earth minerals. The order also calls for a review of the nation’s defense, public health and biological preparedness, communications technology, transportation, energy, and food production sectors.
“In the long term we do need a better strategy to make these things in the United States,” Portman said, adding he supports Biden’s executive order.
It will take several years to increase semiconductor production in the United States. In the meantime, the U.S. must pressure Taiwan – a leading manufacturer of semiconductors – to increase production, Portman said. The senator said he’s personally spoken to the ambassador from Taiwan.
In another issue, Portman supports a plan from Republican Sens. Mitt Romeny, of Utah, and Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2025. The minimum wage then would be adjusted every two years, based on the rate of inflation.
Democrats have proposed raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.
The federal minimum wage currently is $7.25 an hour. It hasn’t risen since 2009.
Portman also has introduced a bill to strengthen the E-Verify Act, requiring employers to use an electronic employment verification system in order to reduce illegal immigration.
Portman has begun conversations with colleagues about The Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and the jury system.
The senator supports efforts to ensure equal protection for all Americans but said religious freedom should be respected.
“I oppose discrimination of any kind; that includes for the LGBTQ community,” he said. “And so I want to try to move something forward.”
Portman also said he was looking forward to a hearing on the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. He wants a better understanding of the failures of Jan. 6 and how to prevent future attacks.