INTERVIEW: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo On The Endless Frontier Act
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo spoke with GPB News' Sarah Rose about the Endless Frontier Act moving through Congress and the future of technology in Georgia and America.
The Endless Frontier Act has had bipartisan support, co-sponsored by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Todd Young (R-IN). The bill would — among other things — increase funding for STEM research, expand access to broadband in rural areas, and fund technology initiatives to make America competitive on a global scale.
SARAH ROSE: In 2021, this is actually a truly bipartisan effort and that feels pretty rare in a time that's so divisive. So I wanted to ask you, why should Georgians feel optimistic about what's in this bill and the initiatives inside of that?
SECRETARY GINA RAIMONDO: Yeah, thank you. Well, President Biden has been very clear that he wants to work across the aisle and work with his colleagues and find bipartisan support, and if we're successful, it'll mean a lot of jobs, good paying jobs for the people of Georgia. It will mean big investments to improve the pipes that deliver clean water, broadband — making sure every Georgian receives high speed, affordable broadband, even if they live in a rural area. It'll mean better and safer roads, bridges, highways and — and also, I think, more manufacturing jobs because it calls for big investments in advanced manufacturing. So as you said, this is a big deal. It's exciting. It could be the biggest bipartisan effort that we've seen in a long time. And it's good for America. It's good for Georgia, but it's good for American workers all over the country.
ROSE: Something I've heard a lot when this bill comes up is the focus to really strengthen America's position in technology and cybersecurity against competitors like China. And I know it's a big question, but how does America actually do that? I mean, is this — in a lot of ways — our new space race?
RAIMONDO: Well, there's no question that we are in a fierce competition with China and we need to invest in America in order to win that competition and make sure that our way of life is secure and that our country is secure and that we continue to create jobs. So the American jobs plan calls for big investments in research and development. You know, the Chinese are investing hundreds of billions of dollars to get ahead of us in technology, in artificial intelligence, in semiconductors, and we can't let that happen. So that's why the president is calling for big investments in technology so that we can not only keep up, but get ahead and make sure Americans are secure.
ROSE: I'm kind of a nerd about new tech and everything that's coming out in the next couple of years. And I know there's some discussion in this bill about our artificial intelligence and new green energy. I'm curious from — from just your jobs perspective, what are you the most excited about that's on the horizon? What really is getting you just stoked about what's coming up in the future?
RAIMONDO: I don't know that I'm a nerd, although my kids think I'm a nerd. But I'm also excited about all the investments in technology. If you look at the — look at our lives, look at the way we live our lives, everything is increasingly tech-enabled. And in order for Americans to fully participate in that, we have to make investments. One of the areas I suppose I'm particularly excited about is in broadband. So the president's calling for a $100 billion investment to make sure every single American has access to high speed broadband that they can afford. And, you know, whether whether it's artificial intelligence or cloud computing or cybersecurity or whatever, you need access to broadband. And it's really unfair that so many people don't have it. And so that I suppose that's the one thing I'm most excited about this.