SEMI 2014 Washington Forum

SEMI Hosts 2014 Washington Forum; Presents Government Leadership Award to Rep. Tom Reed

By Jamie Girard, senior director, NA Public Policy, SEMI

SEMI hosted its annual Washington Forum on April 29-30 which brought 23 SEMI Member executives and other participants to Washington, D.C. for two days of meetings with policymakers, presentations by speakers, and the awarding of the 2014 SEMI Government Leadership Award.  The event takes place annually in order to give SEMI member executives firsthand experience in Washington, D.C. to convey the interests of the industry directly to lawmakers, as well as allow them to learn more about the policymaking process, and to network with their peers in achieving a common objective.  This year the group focused on three key areas including federal support for advanced manufacturing, international trade, and intellectual property/cybersecurity.  Over 30 meetings were held with policymakers from White House officials, agency administrators, and Members of Congress.

SEMI Washington ForumAs a part of the two day proceedings, the 2014 SEMI Americas Government Leadership Award, was presented to Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY-23) by Brian Trafas, CMO at KLA-Tencor and Karen Savala, president at SEMI Americas. The Award is a SEMI North American Advisory Board annual recognition of a policymaker who has gone above and beyond in affecting positive change for the industry.  Since his election to the House in 2010, the Congressman has been a national leader on policies supporting innovation and growth in support of our industry, and for advanced manufacturing overall. In his current role as Co-Chair of the bipartisan House Manufacturing Caucus, Congressman Reed has worked to strengthen and support domestic manufacturing. He is the House sponsor of H.R. 2996, the “Revitalize American Manufacturing Innovation” (RAMI) Act which seeks to support advanced manufacturing public-private partnerships across the U.S.  The bill currently has 74 cosponsors in the House and a companion bill (S.1468) is moving through the Senate.  Rep. Reed sits powerful Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over tax and trade policy which are two of the major policy concerns for SEMI members. In this post, the Congressman has consistently supported policies to boost job creation and reform the tax code to promote economic growth.

Recognizing the important role that advanced manufacturing plays in the U.S., two different Washington Forum teams were dedicated to expanding support for Rep. Reed’s “Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act.” The bipartisan bill is also supported by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Congressman Joseph Kennedy (D-MA-4).  The bill would establish a Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NMI) to position the United States as the global leader in advanced manufacturing.  The program is designed to bring together industry, universities and community colleges, federal agencies and all levels of government to accelerate manufacturing innovation in technologies with commercial applications. It would establish public-private institutes to leverage resources to bridge the gap between basic research and product development. The two teams met with Representatives and Senators and their staffs with key jurisdictional authority to advance the bill for a total of 15 meetings in just one day.

SEMI also had a team dedicated to trade policy on a day that saw the issue in the limelight. President Obama returned earlier in the week from a tour of Asia in which the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a primary focus. Much of the trade team's advocacy centered around this multilateral pact and the benefits such an agreement would provide for U.S. companies in reducing both tariffs and non-tariff barriers. TPP is currently being negotiated by 12 Asia-Pacific nations in an effort to transform commercial engagement among economies accounting for 40 percent of global GDP.

In meetings, the team targeted members in leadership positions on the committees of jurisdiction over trade — the Ways and Means Committee in the House and the Finance Committee in the Senate. Progressive conversations were held with seven offices on a host of issues including intellectual property rights protections, U.S.-Korea free trade agreement implementation, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and how to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) — the negotiating power given to the Administration to provide assurances to our trading partners and negotiate in good faith.  With U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman set to testify before the Senate Finance Committee on the President's 2014 trade agenda the following morning, the team urged both sides of the aisle to keep the industry's trade priorities in mind. At the May 1st hearing SEMI was pleased to see many of these concerns addressed in rigorous fashion and SEMI's public policy team hopes to build on those positive discussions in the year to come.

Intellectual Property is key driver for SEMI members, with the average annual investment for our companies being about 15 percent of revenue.  Because of this, and with the government’s increased interest in this area, the final Washington Forum Team concentrated on bringing more awareness of the challenges our industry faces to government officials.  This same team also discussed the increased need for action on cybersecurity in both the federal government and private sector.

The team met with Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Michelle Lee, and her staff, to discuss how we could work more closely with the federal government.  The team also met with the Staff Director for the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, to discuss the latest legislative proposals in Congress. In addition, the team was able to meet with both Republican and Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss upcoming legislation on trade secret theft and patent reform.  The team was also able to sit down for an extended meeting with the White House staff in charge of both IP and cybersecurity, including the staff responsible for coordinating all government IP-related activity.

The SEMI Washington Forum is an annual event hosted by the North American Advisory Board, and brings SEMI-members executives to Washington to give them a firsthand experience with addressing policymakers.  It also gives our elected officials a chance to hear straight from their constituents, and learn more about our important industry.  If you would like to learn more about the Washington Forum and how someone from your organization can participate in the future, please contact Jamie Girard, senior  director, North America Public Policy, at jgirard@semi.org, or by phone at 202.393.5552.

May 6, 2014