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SEMI Advocates for the Industry in Washington – Science, Innovation, R&D

By Jamie Girard, senior director, Public Policy, SEMI North America

With changes coming in Washington, SEMI has important work ahead supporting the innovators and job creators of this country. Advancing the goals of its members, SEMI advocates legislation in congress, targeting passage of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Act, increases to NSF and NIST funding and changes to R&D tax credits.

As mid-term election season heats up throughout the country, lawmakers’ minds have begun the biennial shift back toward the electorate and the promise of a frenetic sprint to November.  However, there remains important work to be done in Washington which stands to have a significant impact on the SEM industries.  On December 10, 2013, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, a two-year deal which laid out the broad parameters for appropriators to build from in formulating fiscal year 2015 spending bills.  Congress is now rushing to pass the 12 separate appropriations bills under regular order.

Last week, the House passed the FY 2015 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Act—the funding legislation with direct implications for many SEMI members. The bill includes $7.4 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), representing a 3.3 percent increase over the FY 2014 level.  This funding supports programs that foster innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness, including funding for research on advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, and STEM education.  Additionally, the bill includes $856 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), approximately a one percent increase from the previous year. NIST’s laboratories, research and standards development, and manufacturing services have proven crucial to boosting American innovation and competitiveness.  The Senate is expected to consider the CJS bill in June and we are hopeful that these levels will be realized in the final version of the bill.

Another important item moving through the legislature is the R&D tax credit.  On April 29th, the House passed a permanent R&D tax extension without offsets. The R&D credit expired at the end of last year along with more than 50 other tax breaks but the $156 billion House bill extended just the R&D tax provision.  This is a novel approach as the R&D credit has been extended on a short-term basis for nearly 30 years.  The Senate is taking a different approach to tax policy, considering shorter extensions through a legislative vehicle called the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act, which passed Committee in early April.  SEMI has supported the implementation of a retroactive R&D tax credit in Washington throughout the year and continues to advocate for immediate action on this legislation to reduce business uncertainty for our members.

It is imperative Congress secure passage of an appropriations bill for Science-related items, as well as a renewal of the R&D tax credit, before the election season hits full swing. While both issues could be considered in a lame duck session of Congress, the murky period following mid-term elections has provided few safe bets in years past.  These provisions will help direct structural benefits to some of the most innovative companies in the country – and our best job creators. For that, SEMI will continue to work to advance these goals in Washington. If you have questions about SEMI government affairs activities, please contact Taylor Sholler, manager of U.S. Public Policy, at Tsholler@semi.org.

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