Skip to main content

Rodgers on tech innovation, U.S. leadership: The best way to predict the future is to invent it


Washington, DC – E&C Republicans continue their work to ensure U.S. leadership in emerging technologies and that we win the technological race against China. Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) joined the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International)’s “Tomorrow Today” podcast to discuss the importance of American innovation.

You can listen to the full conversation here, and read a few of the highlights below.

SAE International

America, Leading the Way on Innovation – Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers

By Grayson Brulte

August 27, 2020

You gave a speech once where you said, “No challenge too great, no dream too big.” You spoke these words during the 2014 Republican response to the State of the Union. Will you please kindly expand upon these powerful words?

“I believe those words today. I believed those words then. I think as we navigate the biggest health and economic crisis of our lifetime because of the coronavirus, that it comes back to the promise of America. You know, I have with me a copy of the Constitution. I love to carry it around. I love to go to high schools and talk to seniors about the Constitution and the preamble to the Constitution. And it’s in the preamble to the Constitution that we read that ‘We the People of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility’, and on and on. But it’s about the people. And right now there’s this sense of despair. There’s a sense of fear. There’s a lot of fear right now. There’s a fear of the unknown. There’s a fear of the coronavirus. There’s a fear of more isolation. There’s a fear of taking a risk again. And I believe that it is with innovation, American creativity, American ingenuity that we find the inspiration that America will win the future and that we’ll actually come out of this stronger than before. So one of our challenges of our time is what about the future? And I’ve been saying since the beginning of this year, even before coronavirus, that the best way to predict the future is to invent it. And something that I’ve added more recently is that to invent it, we will find the courage to dream again.”

That’s powerful, because when I look at America, and same as you, I see a land of endless opportunity. How do we ensure that innovators and entrepreneurs can continue to innovate and build new businesses without government intervention and overburdened regulations?

“We need to make sure that that remains the American way. We need pro-innovation. We need pro-consumer agendas. The key is really around lifting regulatory burdens that so often hold back the innovators, the startups, the entrepreneurs. One example is around emerging tech, and I’m leading right now on the Energy and Commerce Committee a package of bills to really spur and make sure America is leading in emerging tech – and I’m talking about AI, autonomous vehicles, quantum computing, next-generation tech. But the key is to make sure that we are incentivizing a new era of American innovation. This whole package, this global competitive package, this agenda, really incentivizes free-market American ingenuity. That’s been our past; that’s been our future; that’s why we have led in every field, every industry. And that’s what we need to continue to encourage and ensure as we move forward that we have another era of innovation.”

For our listeners who might not be familiar with Energy and Commerce, will you please kindly share some insight about the committee and your key priorities on the committee?

“Absolutely. This committee is one of the oldest committees in the House of Representatives. It was established nearly at the beginning. The Energy and Commerce Committee has broad jurisdiction over energy, technology, health care, emerging tech. It’s a committee that’s at the forefront of America’s competitiveness. You think about these issues, these are the issues that are going to determine American leadership, whether America is winning the future. It’s really a committee that is at the forefront of our future right now, and I’m excited to serve on the committee and lead on these issues.”

One of the issues you’re working on a lot is around autonomous vehicles. Your work on the committee, how can you ensure that […] these companies can build and grow here in America?

“That’s where we really need a national framework to allow for autonomous vehicles to move forward. This is our future, and it is another area where we need to make sure that America is leading; that America is the country where the research and the development and the deployment can take place. And right now, there’s some resistance largely from the trial bar, but I believe we can do it in a way that ensures people’s safety but also makes sure that America is leading. We’re in a race with a lot of other countries, including China. China right now is on our roadways, testing vehicles, collecting data. And we need to make sure that we’re allowing the innovators to deploy. We need a path to commercialization, and that means that we need that federal framework. […] The leadership of the committee was fully behind the SELF DRIVE Act, and right now there’s been more concerns raised. Quite honestly, the trial bar has been raising significant concerns, and that’s why the bill never passed the Senate. That’s why we are having some challenges this year. They really need to come to the table. We need to make sure that we have legislation that will position America to move forward.”

Click HERE to hear the full conversation.


In the News