Capitol Commentary - February 2008

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Capitol Commentary

Maggie Hershey
Senior Director, Public Policy

While all eyes seem to be on the campaign trail, it’s a new year in Washington and Congress is back at work. SEMI is taking a close look at what can be done now and looking ahead to position ourselves for a new Administration in 2009. The recently-passed economic stimulus bill includes enhanced depreciation measures for equipment put into service during 2008 and that gets us off to a good start. But much more needs to be done. Some current priorities are:

  • R&D Funding—We saw mixed results last year and are pushing for significant increases in federal R&D investments this year.
  • R&D Tax Credit—The credit expired in December 2007 and we are pressing to get it extended, improved and made retroactive.
  • Export control—We are working for expansion of the Validated End-User Program and for reform of the control list.
  • Solar energy investment tax credit—The credit expires this year and we are seeking an extension.

The government is looking at these and other issues and some key challenges will be limits on time and money. There will be pressure on the calendar as candidates will want to spend time at home to campaign. Congress is unlikely to take up controversial issues (such as immigration) out of a desire not to alienate the electorate. The budget environment is tough given competing priorities, a growing federal deficit and concerns about the state of the economy. Congress reinstated “pay-as-you-go” rules last year which impose more discipline on spending but also make it more challenging to extend popular tax credits given their cost.

Against this backdrop, SEMI is the voice of the collective industry in Washington. Every day, we talk with policymakers to educate them about our industry and our views on key issues. We are preparing for our annual Washington Forum this spring and are organizing events in important congressional districts around the country. And as always, we invite our members to visit Washington and meet with their representatives and the policymakers whose decisions affect our industry.

One of our most important tools is the SEMI Political Alliance. This political action committee is making a concerted effort this year to increase our visibility with policymakers and to promote the industry’s public policy agenda. By the end of January, over half the number of contributors from last year have already given to the PAC. We have started attending fundraising events for congressional champions and anticipate an active schedule of events over the coming months.

All in all, it promises to be an exciting and busy time. We urge you to get involved in the SEMI U.S. Public Policy program and help make it a successful year.

February 13, 2008