In an Executive Roundtable moderated by Jason Baker, SVP of Health, Housing and Transportation Policy on April 4, special guest Congressman Ro Khanna spoke to SVLG members about his key concerns and initiatives, including Biden’s Build Back Better framework, well-crafted antitrust legislation, and U.S.-based manufacturing.
Rep. Khanna leads California’s 17th congressional district, which is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, and is a bold leader on national issues from climate change to tech policy. Locally, Rep. Khanna has improved the community, including investments in early childhood education, bike lanes, and funding for flood protection for the South San Francisco Bay shoreline.
As he fielded questions from SVLG members, Rep. Khanna emphasized the need for compromise in order to achieve progress.
Addressing Biden’s initial proposed Build Back Better framework, Rep. Khanna said the focus is no longer on crafting the legislation but rather on making a compromise that will clear the Senate, which requires 51 votes. He said he is open to working out a compromise with a $400 to $500 billion investment and clean energy coupled with some increase in fossil fuel production.
“The reality is: can we get the 51 votes in the Senate?” Rep. Khanna said. “We’re trying, and I’ve said we have to compromise, because otherwise, we get nothing.”
On antitrust legislation, Rep. Khanna also stressed the need for moderation in order to achieve progress. He said that he supports well-crafted legislation that will not break up companies or damage the innovation economy.
“I am for strong antitrust enforcement and making sure our platforms aren’t discriminating against sellers improperly or privileging their own products,” he said. “But these can’t be laws that break up companies reflexively or don’t allow companies to have their own standards, in terms of content moderation or their own standards in terms of security.”
Rep. Khanna also noted his support for increasing investment in U.S.-based manufacturing and technology.
“We need to make the case for continued investment in our manufacturing capacity and our ability to produce things in this country,” he said, referring to the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act of 2022 or the America COMPETES Act of 2022.
Turning to the Ukraine, Rep. Khanna spoke about how tech companies are assisting in the war effort. He noted that the tech community should be proud of its involvement, including divesting from Russia, disabling technology that would help Russia’s position, and in some cases hiring Ukrainians remotely or as refugees.
“I think tech companies have been extraordinary in this crisis,” he said, adding, “I’m really proud of how Silicon Valley has stepped up.”