Former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd discusses tech policy, semiconductor manufacturing and more at Arizona Chamber roundtable

Republican Congressman Will Hurd is a man on a mission. A former CIA operative turned politician, Hurd has long been dedicated to advancing policy that strengthens America’s economic and national security. And, as he made clear during a recent visit to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, he’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Congressman Will Hurd (R)

Reflecting on his three terms in Congress, Hurd discussed the sheer size of his Texas district, which encompassed more than 800 miles of the Texas-Mexico border, stretched across two time zones, and included 29 counties.

Hurd earned a reputation during his tenure for his availability in his district for his constituents, the several bills he saw signed into law, and even his friendly relationship with his neighboring congressman, Beto O’Rourke, with whom he shared a livestreamed multiday drive from Texas to Washington, D.C. when plane travel was interrupted due to a winter storm.

During the roundtable discussion, Hurd emphasized Arizona’s potential to lead the nation in technological excellence and global economic competitiveness. Specifically, he highlighted the state’s burgeoning semiconductor manufacturing industry, which he believes could be a key player in the mid-21st century.

“In no way is IT procurement considered to be sexy, but the federal government spends $90 billion on IT equipment, of which 85% is outdated. Arizona has the opportunity to play a critical role in technological innovation, especially an already-burgeoning semiconductor manufacturing industry, which could give us the ability to be more self-reliant, and fuse all of our resources together, enabling our nation to punch far, far above our weight in the global economy,” Hurd said.

Throughout the interview, he repeatedly circled back to federal technology policy and data privacy, recognizing the need to strengthen digital national security in an age of increasing cyber threats. He also emphasized the importance of workforce development and immigration reform in filling the gaps in the manufacturing sector.

As a board member of OpenAI and engaged stakeholder with software company Palantir, Hurd is acutely aware of the AI revolution and its potential to impact the new-era economy. He stressed the need for both state and federal governments to get ahead of the curve in terms of regulating the industry and ensuring that AI follows the law.

Hurd’s sense of urgency on these issues is palpable, and with good reason. He believes that America has until 2027 before China could surpass it as the world’s largest superpower. And with experts warning of the potential for mass layoffs in an increasingly automated future, Hurd believes that action must be taken now to ensure America’s continued economic and national security.

Hurd portrays himself as a man with a vision: a politician who isn’t content to sit back and wait for things to happen, but who actively seeks to shape the future. And as he looks ahead to his own future, he doesn’t rule out the possibility of joining the 2024 GOP presidential primary field.

Michael Kittilson

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