Recent semiconductor supply chain constraints have drawn the attention of Washington policymakers at every level. Exasperated by the global pandemic, customers of semiconductor manufacturers have sounded the alarm about the chip shortage and the downstream consequences for end-user companies and consumers. Global automakers have suffered the brunt of the impact, shuttering factories and slashing vehicle production.
Last month President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) to review and secure America’s supply chains. The stated goals of this review are to revitalize and rebuild domestic manufacturing capacity, maintain America’s competitive edge in research and development, and create well-paying jobs. Under the EO, the U.S. will also work more closely with allies to strengthen supply chains. The EO directs supply chain reviews on several critical segments, including semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging. The Department of Commerce will identify risks throughout the U.S. semiconductor supply chain and make policy recommendations to address those risks within 100 days of the EO’s issuance.
In coordination with the White House, Congress is contemplating a variety of measures to address supply chain issues. Recently, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the effects of the U.S. tax code on domestic manufacturing. Both Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) highlighted their desire for bipartisan cooperation to use the economic tools within the jurisdiction of the committee to bolster domestic manufacturing.
The committee discussed two pieces of legislation that would provide significant incentives to domestic manufacturing of semiconductors. The first was the investment tax credit (ITC) for semiconductor manufacturing that was included in last year’s CHIPS for America Act but not with the other semiconductor incentives in the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). An ITC would provide predictability and stability in the U.S. tax code to promote large, long-term investments for the industry. The second was the American Innovation and Jobs Act, which repeals the R&D amortization requirement set to go into effect in 2022 and expands the refundable tax credit for startups and small businesses. Enhancing domestic incentives for R&D and manufacturing is an important step in putting the U.S. on equal footing with other countries and would promote its continued leadership in the chip industry.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has announced his intention to craft a package of measures to strengthen U.S. competitiveness vis-a-vis China. The package reportedly would include funding for the microelectronics R&D and Commerce grant programs that were passed in the NDAA. The Senate plans to take up the legislation in April.
SEMI applauds the renewed focus on incentivizing domestic manufacturing and R&D for an industry that enables countless technologies, drives innovation in sectors throughout the U.S. economy, and powers the electronic systems essential to critical infrastructure and defense systems. We look forward to working with policymakers in Congress and the Administration to support the entire domestic semiconductor ecosystem.
Kimberly Ekmark is director of Public Policy and Advocacy at SEMI