Capitol Commentary

Industry Executives Lobby on Capitol Hill

By Maggie Hershey, senior director, SEMI North America Public Policy 

In front of Capitol
 In front of the Capitol, left to right: Maggie Hershey (SEMI), Harvey Frye (TEL America), Karen Savala (SEMI), Marc Haugen (Lam Research), Rudy Kellner (FEI), William Morin (Applied Materials), Doyle Edwards (Brewer Science) 

Given all the attention in Washington lately on technology and energy policies, it was a fitting time for over 25 industry executives to participate in the annual SEMI Washington Forum on April 6.  The Washington Forum is the preeminent event for SEMI member companies to meet directly with policymakers responsible for laws and regulations that affect our industry.


 SEMI member companies represented at the Washington Forum include: AEI-Linx Consulting, Air Products and Chemicals, Applied Materials, ASML, Brewer Science, DuPont, Eminess Technologies, FEI, KLA-Tencor, Lam Research, MDC Vacuum Products, MKS Instruments, Oerlikon Solar, Shiller LLC, and Tokyo Electron America.

Forum participants focused their lobbying efforts on innovation and solar policies and they met with over two dozen policymakers.  Participants presented the annual SEMI Government Leadership Award to Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX).  They enjoyed a keynote presentation by Brian Toohey, the new president of the Semiconductor Industry Association, and participated in a discussion about the politics of technology policy with the Franklin Square Group, a prominent lobbying firm.

So much of what the government does has a direct impact on our industry and affects how companies throughout the semiconductor and PV supply chains do business. What were SEMI industry executives asking for?

  • Federal R&D Investment:  SEMI urged the U.S. Government to maintain increased R&D investments in key disciplines to help fuel continued technological innovation and contribute to the education of a skilled workforce in the United States.  This includes funding for the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in line with the America Competes Act and the President’s budget request.
  • R&D Tax Credit:  SEMI supports a strong, permanent R&D tax credit of commensurate rate for all companies.  We urged Congress to increase the Alternative Simplified Credit (ASC) to 20 percent and to make both the traditional credit and the ASC permanent.  This will encourage job creation and R&D investment in the United States.
  • High Skills Immigration Reform:  SEMI supports efforts to move forward on high-skills immigration reform, especially with regard to the urgent need to reform the green card and H-1B visa programs for highly educated, foreign-born professionals.  We urged Congress to pass bipartisan solutions that include a permanent fix to the arbitrarily low quotas and massive backlogs that currently plague these programs.
  • Solar Energy/PV:  SEMI urged Congress to remove the cap on the advanced energy manufacturing tax credit and to extend the Treasury Department’s Section 1603 grants in lieu of investment tax credit program.  SEMI also urged Congress to pass energy legislation this year.  This should include a strong renewable energy standard or a clean energy standard with a solar “carve out.”

With only one day to attend many meetings, SEMI Washington Forum participants divided into four lobby teams (two for Innovation issues; two for solar energy/PV). All four teams covered a lot of ground.

 Congressional Meetings with Innovation Teams

The two Innovation Teams met with these Members of Congress and/or their senior staff (with their most relevant committee assignment listed):

  •  Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA):  Energy and Commerce, Science
  •  Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA):  Silicon Valley constituency, Energy and Commerce, former SEMI Government Leadership Award winner
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY):  former SEMI Government Leadership Award winner
  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA):  Chairs the House Republican High Tech Working Group, Judiciary
  • Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT):  Financial Services
  • Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA):  Appropriations
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA):  Judiciary, Science
  • Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ):  Judiciary, Science
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR):  Finance, Budget, Energy and Natural Resources
  • House Judiciary Committee staff  (jurisdiction includes IP and immigration)

In Front of White House

In front of the White House, the two Solar Teams (left to right: Corning Painter (Air Products and Chemicals), Bettina Weiss (SEMI), Chris O'Brien (Oerlikon Solar), John Odom (DuPont), Mike Dabbs (Applied Materials), Rich Salsman (SEMI), David Miller (DuPont), Dennis Ralston (KLA-Tencor), Mark Willingham (Schiller LLC), Jamie Girard (SEMI), Kevin Lally (TEL America), Seth Bagshaw (MKS Instruments), and Joe Berwind (AEI - Linx Consulting)

Congressional Meetings with Solar Teams

The two Solar Teams met with these Members of Congress and/or their senior staff (with their most relevant committee assignment listed):

  • Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA):  Energy and Commerce
  • Rep. John Carney (D-DE):  Financial Services
  • Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX):  Ways and Means, Budget
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL):  Energy and Commerce
  • Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI):  Ranking Member of Ways and Means
  • Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA):  New Democratic Co-Chair of the bipartisan House High Tech Caucus, Energy and Commerce
  • Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ):  Finance
  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI):  Finance, Energy and Natural Resources
  • Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA):  Ways and Means
  • Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA):  Natural Resources
White House Meetings

In addition to these congressional meetings, all of the groups met with a White House official.  The innovation teams met with Kei Koizumi, the assistant director for Federal Research and Development at the Office of Science and Technology Policy.  Mr. Koizumi is a leading R&D policy expert and he provided an overview of federal government involvement in funding basic research at key science agencies.  This was one of our top lobbying issues since negotiations were at a fever pitch on the government’s FY11 budget and a possible government shutdown.  Negotiators reached agreement at the last minute a few days later and the final budget included relatively positive results for many government-funded basic research programs.

The solar teams met with Dan Utech, deputy director for Energy and Climate Change at the Domestic Policy Council.  Members spoke with Mr. Utech about our policy priorities and shared with him stories about successes within the solar supply chain as a direct result of programs like the advanced energy manufacturing tax credit.

SEMI Government Leadership Award
Leadership Award
Rep. McCaul receives his SEMI Government Leadership Award from David B. Miller (DuPont)

As a part of the lobby day, the Washington Forum participants met with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) for the presentation of the 2011 SEMI Americas Government Leadership Award.  Now in his fourth term, Rep. McCaul consistently has made a priority of issues that are important to our industry and to the advancement of innovation in America. 

McCaul is a co-founder and co-chair of the House High Tech Caucus, vice-chair of the Republican High Tech Working Group, and a member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.  With these roles and his notable support for the America Competes Act last year, he has distinguished himself as a leader on high-technology issues.

The SEMI Americas Government Leadership Award was created in 2004.  It recognizes policymakers in the United States who have demonstrated outstanding leadership on issues and policies that support the U.S. microelectronics and photovoltaic manufacturing value chain.  The award was presented by David Miller, president of DuPont Electronics and Communications and chairman of the SEMI North America Advisory Board.

The SEMI Washington office continues to focus on events such as the Washington Forum and other lobbying activities to ensure that our industry’s collective voice is heard and that we make a positive impact on U.S. public policies.  If you have any questions, please contact Jamie Girard, senior manager, Public Policy at or by phone at 202.289.0440.


May 3, 2011