Thank you Sergio and Eddie thank you for hosting me today. It is good to be with all of you. It is good to be back in Brownsville. It has been a few years since I visited the port and took a little boat ride around the port. I am glad that things are going well and that business is continuing to improve.
I was chuckling to myself as Sergio was reading the committees I am on because in every introduction before somebody says which committees you are on you always have to insert the word powerful. But one of the committees really is and it is the finance committee. I was the chair and now I am the ranking member of the trade subcommittee of the finance committee. And, of course, we were very much involved in USMCA and we all know how important that has been to our economy and to North America and the jobs it has created.
But one of the things that I think Covid has taught us, I was telling a group earlier. There are only two things that came out of Covid-19. One is margaritas-to-go. And the other is telemedicine. But we also realize we have a broadband challenge when we are trying to educate our children remotely. But, not just that. The benefits that can come from increased access to things like telehealth.
But, supply chains are absolutely critical to the United States and I have to say, some of my thoughts about globalization in terms of our reliance on foreign manufacturers for certain components that we absolutely need here in the United States has changed somewhat. The case of semiconductors is the single best example of that. The car industry now, as you know… many car manufacturers are not able to build the cars that they have demand for because of the lack of access to semiconductors. If you start looking at that supply chain, 90 percent of it comes from Asia. Sixty-three percent of advanced semiconductors come from Taiwan alone. So, that has prompted me to look at our relationship with the supply chains maybe a little differently than I have before. And I know you have to deal with this on a regular basis. I would love to hear more about your experience.
Covid-19 has been miserable for everybody. For some people it has been particularly hard. But, the good news is as more and more of us get vaccinated… and my opinion is that for me and my family and everybody I care about and I work with, I have encouraged them to get vaccinated because as you visit the hospitals as I did at Baylor, Scott & White in Dallas just last week, they said their ICU was filled with people who were unvaccinated. And so, realizing that people have the right to make their own decisions about that, I think we ought to use good old fashioned facts, and logic, and persuasion and encourage everybody to get vaccinated.
But the excitement I see here in the Valley is really palpable. We’ve had the chance to go out to SpaceX this morning and to see what is happening there and it is nothing short of a miracle, what is happening. I still remember when Elon Musk came to my office about, probably close to about 15 years ago and he said the U.S. government wouldn’t let SpaceX compete for these projects. Fortunately, over time that opposition eroded and what we have seen is good, old-fashioned innovation, something that America does best and it has really created something very extraordinary that is going to continue pay a huge dividend here in the Valley and for the country and for the planet, really.
But, one of the things I continue to hear about is workforce. And certainly while many new great jobs are being created at places like SpaceX and other places here in the Valley, that continues to be a huge challenge so we have to do everything we can and maybe double down to try to figure out how do we provide people with the education, with the training and the tools they need in order to perform the jobs that are needed in this century.
So, I know how essential the Port of Brownsville is and I want to hear more specifically from you. But I also want to tell you how proud I am of your great elected officials here at the local level, all of whom I consider to be my personal friends and people I have got to know and work with over the years. Whether it is a hurricane or Covid-19, you name it, we are on the phone talking to each other on a regular basis, trying to figure out what we can do together to try to provide relief where relief is needed and whether there are additional services, whether it is federal investment along our U.S.-Mexico border or when it comes to our ports of entry, I am your partner. I am proud of the opportunity to work together in the past and look forward to continuing to do that in the future. So, thank you for having me here today and I want to listen and to learn from you.
Editor’s Note: The above commentary was made by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn at a roundtable discussion he and the Rio Grande Valley Partnership hosted at the Port of Brownsville on Sept. 16, 2021. After giving the above remarks, Cornyn heard from local elected officials, educators and business leaders. The “Sergio” Cornyn mentioned above was Sergio Contreras, president to the RGV Partnership. The “Eddie” Cornyn mentioned was Eddie Treviño, Jr., Cameron county judge.
Editor’s Note: Following the roundtable discussion, Sen. Cornyn held a news conference at the Port of Brownsville. Cornyn took questions about the Covid-19 vaccine and re-opening land ports of entry on the southwest border to Mexican visa holders. The attached podcast features the news conference.